From an early age, Suzanne Rohrback had a unique insight into the need for science to bridge gaps in medical care. Her big brother is autistic and growing up, Rohrback remembers thinking there were no good options for him – unmedicated, he could be unpredictably violent and medicated, he would be zombie-like. “But we don’t understand enough about what goes wrong in this condition to have created a better solution,” she says.
At a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology last year, Megan Krench saw something remarkable: Children, previously unable to move their head or sit up, were turning their heads to look at their parents, sitting up, and even walking. It was a video of a company’s clinical trial for a gene therapy to treat a devastating childhood neuromuscular disorder, spinal muscular atrophy. Infants with this disease typically never reach any developmental milestones, and most die by age two.
When Bronwyn Scott received a Stamps Scholarship a couple years ago, she cited an Amgen Scholar as the person having the greatest impact on her in her college career: “My incredible research mentor Dr. Joy Wolfram had inspired me to work hard, believe in myself, and remain unapologetic for my passion and drive. She continuously pushes me to reach for goals I thought were unattainable.”
Steven McCornack is an unlikely member of the Amgen Scholars community. He is not a biology researcher, undergraduate, program alumnus, or student program director. A professor of communications at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB), McCornack studies interpersonal relationships. He has recommended students before for the Amgen Scholars Program but his true connection to the program is a very recent and personal one: his son was a 2017 Amgen Scholar.
The Amgen Scholars Program provides young scientists across the globe access and opportunity through cutting-edge research experiences and exposure to biotechnology and drug discovery. In this video, participating students talk about the opportunities for independent research in top university labs, networking and communication skills. To learn more, visit: https://www.amgenscholars.com.
For Cammi Valdez, undergraduate research was a pivotal moment in her life. It was her first exposure to thinking critically about a single question and the first time she could delve into thinking about creating something novel. Now program manager for the Harvard University Amgen Scholars Program, Valdez loves seeing that transformation occur for students participating in the undergraduate research experience.
In high school, Marvin Gee was fortunate to get a jump start on his research career, working at the National Cancer Institute. Cancer had been a personal interest of his because of the death of his uncle who battled with the disease. His early exposure to bioscience research helped him realize that biology is like a complicated puzzle. It all eventually fits together to make perfect sense.
"Moving forward, I am confident that obtaining a graduate education will empower me to improve the quality of life for others. My ultimate career goal is to become a scientist who inspires others to achieve their goals."
David Isaac Berrios
Host University: University of California, San Francisco