Jonathan Abraham
Harvard University School of Medicine
Age: 28

"The fellowship allows me to put into real context [what] I spent years studying in the laboratory during my PhD."

I am the fourth son of Haitian immigrants to Canada, and I was raised in Laval, a suburb of Montreal. My family moved to Queens, New York, when I was a sophomore in high school. I then studied Biochemistry at Harvard College. I joined the Harvard-MIT MD-PhD program in 2006 and recently completed a PhD in biophysics. For my dissertation work, I studied the cellular entry mechanism of a group of highly lethal hemorrhagic fever viruses that are endemic to poor, rural areas in South America. I am now finishing my fourth year of medical school, and plan to complete residency in internal medicine with further training in infectious diseases. I ultimately hope to combine a career in infectious diseases with basic science research in the same field.

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What impact will the 2011 Kean Fellowship have on your future?
The fellowship permits me to put into real context the proteins/molecules I spent years studying in the laboratory during my PhD. Supported by the Kean Fellowship, I am joining a team of local scientist at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. We are actively designing novel therapeutic strategies to fight infection caused by the South American hemorrhagic fever arenaviruses.

Describe some of your most memorable travel or work experiences.
As a college student, I travelled to Tokyo, Japan, for one week of grueling Kendo training (Japanese fencing) in the mountains. I really had to push myself beyond my limits to finish the training camp. I will never forget this experience.

What advice would you give to those just entering school or trying to determine their specialty or field of interest?
I would urge them to follow their intuition and not shy away from opportunities (especially in regards to travel abroad) that present themselves but might seem daunting at first.