Motivation for Biomedical Science
I became a biologist first and foremost to advance science for families like mine who depend on research.
My personal experience
I have a personal stake in biomedical research: I have a neurological disorder that causes parkinsonism, dystonia and a variety of other issues that significantly impact my movement, stamina and quality of life. My family has a history of these early-onset neurological issues, and I currently await the results of whole exome sequencing to elucidate a potential genetic cause of our progressive illness. I believe research can better explain my biology, improve understanding of disorders like mine, suggest treatments and inspire hope for a cure.
My health encourages me to learn and teach effective research skills from a patient-centered perspective. I want to increase the pool of capable biomedical researchers partly because my prognosis depends on dedicated scientists, and the reproducibility crisis and lack of data literacy in the field slows progress that could improve lives like mine. The modern flood of high-throughput data will only lead to more actionable insights and treatments if the amount and quality of biomedical analysis increases. Although I lack the physical skills and stamina to work at the bench, I can still analyze data and teach others to do so. By spreading biomedical data science skills and modeling biological systems to better understand their behavior, I can help catalyze research and assist with developing more effective treatments that improve patients’ lives.
My family’s experience
Before my own medical issues, I chose a biomedical science career due to family experience with disease and medical advancements. The impact of 35 years of biomedical research was a life-changing difference in my uncle and cousin’s experiences with hemophilia. My uncle was severely disabled, spent much of his childhood in hospitals, had regular bleeds, contracted HCV from his treatments, and lost his life to hemorrhage. In contrast, my cousin was diagnosed prenatally, received prophylactic treatment from birth, and leads a relatively normal life. Long before I formally studied biology, I knew this difference research could make in people’s lives, and I swore to learn the mysteries of genetics, cell signaling and biological systems to expand advances like this across other debilitating diseases.
My dedication to science grew further when I lost a cousin to neuroblastoma. It was unacceptable to me that modern medicine could not slow or stop her disease and that so little was understood about cancer biology. I focused my undergraduate and master’s studies on cancer research with the goal of improving survival and quality of life in pediatric cancer so that other families might not share our experience.