BSc Biomedical Science from University of Guelph
MSc by Research in Cardiovascular Biology from University of Edinburgh
PhD Program: Physiology and Pharmacology
Supervisor: Dr. Qingping Feng
Program Stream: 2-3-2
Anticipated Graduation date: 2012-2019
My fascination with the field of medicine began when I was five while watching Big Bird goes to the Hospital. I knew then and there that I wanted to work in the medical field. While the desire to understand how human beings function intrigued me at a young age, I could not yet fully comprehend the complex intricacies of physiologic processes. It wasn’t until I was 11 that my father had his first episode of atrial fibrillation and I discovered the critical role of the heart as the human battery. As I watched the hospital staff restore my father back to a stable condition, I realized that healing was a critical aspect of a person’s health. My interest was enhanced as other loved ones experienced a variety of cardiac diseases. As a result, I began to focus my studies to give me a solid foundation to pursue what had developed into a life long goal. I knew that I wanted to contribute to the body of knowledge that would ensure that cardiac disease was not ultimately a death sentence while engaging in healing those who suffer from it at a more personal level.
With endless support from my parents, after my bachelor’s degree in biomedical science at the University of Guelph, I pursued a Master’s of science in cardiovascular biology in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh. My Master’s degree narrowed my interests while offering fertile ground for a future in research. It was at this time that I learned of the therapeutic potential for cardiac regeneration and I began my quest to venture into that area of scientific research. With strong mentorship and interest, I was encouraged to pursue a PhD. Research, however, would not address the desire to assist with healing on an individual level that a career in medicine could fulfill. The MD/PhD program provides me the opportunity to explore the best of both worlds and allows me to achieve my goals in both areas.
I have had excellent training in my pre-clerkship years at Schulich and am grateful for the clinical experiences I have had. I look forward to the exciting work that my PhD program will provide under the supervision of Dr. Qingping Feng.
Originally I came to medical school with the belief that I would become a cardiologist. My research interests certainly directed me that way (my PhD project will involve investigating mechanisms to enhance the healing power of the heart post-myocardial infarction). Similar to the majority of my medical school classmates, however, my career interests have broadened, and I currently have aspirations to pursue a number of clinical specialties. I hope that my forthcoming clinical encounters will help me narrow my focus once again. In the future I would like to become a practicing physician while maintaining a research component to my career.
The most pressing challenge I currently face is learning to use the different cognitive processes required for the two programs. The study of medicine is often geared toward a style of learning that utilizes memorization and the application of knowledge to clinical scenarios; the left hemisphere of the brain so to speak. While these skills are also critical for my PhD, research also involves a more creative component. In short, research requires a greater scope to “think outside the box.” In choosing the 2-3-2 stream for my MD/PhD, I am in the process of changing the way I think and work. I am learning to overcome this challenge by embracing the application of new ideas gleaned through the process of undertaking research and experiments of my own, thereby stimulating my creative side.