University of California-San Diego
"The Kean Fellowship has allowed me to clearly see the connection between working in developing countries and the powerful techniques available in the United States."
I was born in Missouri and my father, a pediatrician and professor, was constantly moving around with different research and humanitarian projects. He would bring along the family on many occasions, and thus I spent a large portion of my childhood in the developing world, mostly in Papua New Guinea, the Gambia and Malawi. I saw the need for dedicated physician researchers to solve medical problems that would directly result in huge reductions in mortality and morbidity.
I graduated in 2010 from the California Institute of Technology, then entered the Medical Scientist Training Program at UCSD. I am about to begin my second year.
Many of my experiences--what I call "seminal moments"--have left a deep impression on me. For example, recently I was doing data entry for a project about feeding malnourished adults with HIV and the improvement in their condition resulting from proper nutrition. I came across a patient who shared my birthdate. I was 19 at the time. I entered the biographical information and proceeded to the entry for HIV condition and progression. However, the patient died of malnutrition caused by AIDS at 18 years old, before he could be reached by ARVs or supplemental feeding programs. We have very effective treatments for malnutrition and HIV. It became clear to me that people dying of curable diseases is a heinous crime. At that moment, I knew I would dedicate my life to infectious diseases and stopping them, both as a physician and as a researcher.
The Kean Fellowship has allowed me to clearly see the connection between working in developing countries and the powerful techniques available in the United States. I understand the direction I want to take to utilize the resources of my home institution (UCSD) during my PhD to work in and for the needy of sub-Saharan Africa and others around the world.