Meet Amgen Scholar Alumni Karen Zhang

Nov 23, 2015 7:20 AM ET

"The collaborative side of science is not always well advertised, but talking to scientists in industry as well as academia has shown me that research does not have to be a one person endeavor."

Host University: Washington University in St. Louis
Home University: Temple University
Amgen Scholar Year: 2015
Major: Chemistry
Expected Graduation: 2016
Academic and Professional Ambitions

How did you become interested in science?

“My grandfather was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes prior to my birth, and despite not visiting him very often, I was able to see how his health deteriorated over the years. While this is expected, it hurt to see him as well as my mother lose hope in the health care system after a stroke led to a loss of speech and many other health disorders. While my high school science program is what initially got me interested in science, my grandfather's disease and the helplessness I felt growing up is what drives me to pursue a M.D.-Ph.D.”

What’s the larger significance of your Amgen Scholars research? What’s your ultimate career goal?

“At Washington University in St. Louis as part of the Amgen Scholars Program, I am studying a gene that is a possible target for future drug development against cancer. However, once I finish my undergraduate degree, I hope to study cardiovascular disease, since it is the number one cause of death within the United States1.” 

Why did you apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?

“In addition to its presence at some of the top biomedical research universities in the country, since the Amgen Foundation backs the program and its symposium, I knew that I would be exposed to a little bit of the industry side of science, something unavailable in many other research programs.” 

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Leading Causes of Death. Retrieved from


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