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I have gradually discovered the same truth about research that Henry Rosovsky, a former Harvard academic suggests, “The drive that leads scientists to study a topic has to include the belief that new things can be discovered, that newer can be better, and that greater depth of understanding is achievable.” (Henry Rosovsky (1990). “The University: An Owner's Manual”, p.89, W. W. Norton & Company.) Research, then, is an expression of faith in the possibility of progress. In the hands of physicians, this form of optimism in research is the basis of hope for improved diagnosis, treatment and prophylaxis. If so, bringing the insights made at the bench closer to the patients we seek to treat at the bedside, is a driving force in my motivation to enter a MD-PhD program.

Each day at the bench is brimming with the potential to make fundamental discoveries that will shape treatment of disease. In the X Lab, I have made great strides to visualize telomerase and the proteins that regulate its activity. Dr. Johnson and I are convinced that understanding the molecular structure of these telomeric proteins will one day provide invaluable insights into the treatment of premature-aging diseases, such as Werner’s syndrome. However, I also acknowledge the many challenges that prevent the seamless translation of research to the design of new therapies. In structural biology, one such challenge is that the atomic view with which we study molecules often cannot readily include a patient’s entire physiology. I realize this is just one example of the many existing gaps in between basic science research and its application in medicine.

In contrast to this perspective, I realize how powerful research which intimately concerns itself with patients can be to incite change. I have seen it firsthand conducting clinical research as part of the Free Clinic Project at the University of California, Irvine. I sought to understand why there was an overwhelming preference for OB/GYN care during pregnancy over other prenatal care providers. After the patient subjects had filled out the questionnaire, I would explain to patients that choosing family doctors over OB/GYN care often resulted in fewer complications. We were at once improving the health outcomes of patients while collecting data that would inform curriculum for family physicians. With one foot each in the lab and the hospital, the bench and the bedside, I aim not only to understand the biology of aging, but also to apply my scientific findings to make a difference in patients’ lives.

Like Rosovsky, I am dedicated to the promise of academic research. I am equally resolute in my desire to become a physician scientist who seeks to strengthen the feedback loop between research and applications to real-world problems. By conducting translational research in the field of gerontology, I hope my work enables people to live longer and healthier lives. Let this application to MD-PhD programs be evidence of my belief: that new biology can be discovered, that new understanding can lead to better therapies, and that greater care of patients is achievable.

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