Iam applying for this scholarship because I have always worked diligently and passionately to impact my community, and it would be an honor to gain support as I continue my education and prepare to make more positive change in the world. Although I struggled through seizures, whiplash, and a severe concussion throughout my childhood, I persevered to help other hospitalized children, specifically burn victims, through establishing a charity called Boo Boo Bears.
The connection I developed with pediatric burn victims later led me to conduct scientific research to advance burn wound treatment. After multiple years of hands-on skin bank research and writing two graduate-level research papers, my work has been recognized as one of the top 40 projects in the nation, first in New York, and later fourth in the world by some of the most prestigious competitions. I am currently a summer intern at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where I continue to expand my dermatology knowledge and prepare to further transform the realm of burn treatment. I will attend Stony Brook University as a biomedical engineering major, and I was accepted into the B.S./M.D. program directly from high school.
The pager buzzed, and my father sprang into action to respond to a house fire call. This is an indelible childhood memory, but unlike many children of firefighters, I had no interest in joining the fire service, but rather helping the victims torn from a blazing death. In 2009, I was inspired to volunteer at the children’s burn center and establish Boo Boo Bears, a charity where my younger sister and I delivered stuffed bears to pediatric patients. I could sense the discomfort of hospitalization and the fear of deviating from a healthy, normal quality of life at a young age. Their tears and grimaces conveyed the same helpless fear that I experienced when frequently hospitalized for grand mal seizures. I knew the pain, and I was determined to further battle the hardship faced by child burn victims.
"My powerful connections to the burn center and its inhabitants are the main reason for my decision to complete Stony Brook’s M.D./Ph.D. program."
- Emily P.
I became more involved in the burn center and attended related events, where I heard my current research mentor, Dr. Marcia Simon, speak about her work. As director of the skin bank, she was conducting research with applications towards skin regeneration. I was always interested in pathology as a career, and of learning how to diagnose tumor biopsies on a single cell level, a notoriously challenging and stressful part of a pathologist’s job. I requested a meeting with Dr. Simon. She discussed ongoing projects in her lab, including investigation of LRAT, a protein implicated in skin cancer progression. What intrigued me most was that, although the lab utilized skin cancer to complete these experiments, the applications were broad and encompassed another one of my interests, namely wound healing in burn victims. Although I was not yet of age to perform hands-on work, I passionately pursued the investigation of LRAT and later joined the Simon lab.
After two years of hands-on work at the skin bank, I produced my second graduate-level research paper outlining a novel relationship that I discovered between wound healing and cancer. This experience as both a humanitarian and scientist has sparked my interest in devoting my education to the goal of improving quality of life for burn victims. My powerful connections to the burn center and its inhabitants are the main reason for my decision to complete Stony Brook’s M.D./Ph.D. program and conquer the challenge of a career in both science and medicine.
I can confidently say that my ties with the burn center and love for helping burn victims is why I have been successful in my previous endeavors, and this unique past drives me to pursue the rigorous education of a biomedical engineering degree and medical degree. By becoming involved in this interdisciplinary program at a top research university, I will cultivate my ability to approach problems with a complex mindset and multiple perspectives. My multifaceted education as a Stony Brook undergraduate and medical student will expand my knowledge base, and I will learn how to improve burn care by thinking like a scientist, engineer, and clinician.
"Although much of the general public may view scar treatment and related technologies as simply cosmetic, I will use my credibility as a clinician to display the necessity of these treatments in terms of returning patients to a normal standard of healthy living."
- Emily P.
I will first contribute to knowledge about the processes of healthy and unhealthy wound healing in order to fuel the journey towards improved burn treatment. Scientific research is one of many aspects of a biomedical engineering degree, and I can use this perspective to learn in more abstract ways, such as continuing my research on the relationship between wound healing and carcinogenesis. Although this type of science independently may not be directly applicable to burn care, it provides a strong foundation for creating successful engineering and clinical projects to impact patient treatment.
"I can confidently say that my ties with the burn center and love for helping burn victims is why I have been successful in my previous endeavors."
- Emily P.
As a future engineer, I will gain the capacity to develop medical innovations applicable to burn care on a much more practical level. Using my combined knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science, I aspire to develop enhanced methods of debridement, one of the most painful and savage aspect of burn treatment that involves constantly removing dead tissue from wound sites. I would like to improve debridement by designing an enzyme that is selective against damaged tissue, perhaps through an active site that can only bind to portions of proteins that are exposed when they are damaged. Another engineering goal is to improve the efficiency of healing in burn victims by developing a method of delivering cells called fibroblasts directly to a wound site for tissue regeneration.
With the different mindset of a clinician, I will consistently consider the physiological relevance of smaller-scale studies on individual molecules, proteins, or even isolated tissue in vitro. For example, I can use a medical doctor’s perspective to hypothesize that a protein or mechanism involved in cell adhesion or stroma production can also be exploited to either prevent scar formation or improve tissue regeneration. My power as an individual in the medical community will also give me a pedestal to advocate for burn treatment discovery and improvement. I will encourage fire and burn safety, and I will remind the community and those in administrative positions of the importance of treatments like scar removal. Although much of the general public may view scar treatment and related technologies as simply cosmetic, I will use my credibility as a clinician to display the necessity of these treatments in terms of returning patients to a normal standard of healthy living.
- Emily P.