April 28, 2011

Two Macaulay Students at Queens Win Salk Scholarships

Two outstanding pre-medical students from Macaulay Honors College at Queens College are among eight CUNY students who have been awarded Jonas E. Salk Scholarships to study medicine in 2011.

The awards, among the more prestigious awarded by the University, recognize the high ability and scholarship of students who plan careers in medicine and the biological sciences and who are judged likely to make significant contributions to medicine and research. They are selected on the basis of original research papers undertaken with prominent scientist/mentors.
“I commend this year’s Salk Scholars on their commitment to academic quality and to public service, whether as physicians treating the sick and underprivileged, or as researchers working toward medical breakthroughs,” Goldstein said. “Their work exemplifies the proud legacy of Dr. Jonas E. Salk.”

Anam Ahmed ’11 (Queens), will attend SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. A biochemistry major with a sociology minor, she has been studying DNA repair. She constructed a yeast strain that knocked out the REV3 repair gene and added gene repeats that allowed her to measure repair by homologous recombination. Her project showed how the absence of such a gene can lead to DNA rearrangements that can cause tumors. Anam, who says that the “human body is science at its best, and I want to keep exploring it,” aspires to be a physician who works with children, possibly in the field of oncology. A teaching assistant at Macaulay Honors College, Anam served as a mentor to incoming students and as a tutor for Beta Delta Chi, the Queens College chemistry honor society. She received the President’s Choice Award, the Chancellor’s Award, was on the Dean’s List every semester and is a member of the Golden Key Honor Society. The third-place winner of the CUNY Nobel Science Challenge, she had an undergraduate research fellowship at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Systems Biology Center. Under a study-abroad scholarship program, she spent a summer in Thailand teaching English to sixth-graders.

Sonam Sani ’11 (Queens) will attend George Washington University School of Medicine. She is a neuroscience major with a minor in sociology, and has focused her research on autoimmune diseases. Her research project studied the effect of peripheral antagonism of the neuropeptide Y1 receptor on anxiety levels and peripheral organ inflammation during sympathetic hyperactivity. “Medicine is the one field that combines all of my interests,” she says. “It combines my love of science and problem solving while at the same time allows me to play a really interactive and direct role in improving people’s quality of life.” Her interest in neuroscience started at the end of her senior year in high school, and it was while she was volunteering in the emergency room at the New York Hospital Queens that “she felt a surge of excitement and energy and knew that this is where I wanted to be.” Sonam, a Queens College Student Ambassador and a teaching assistant at Macaulay Honors College, has been on the Dean’s List and the Presidential Achievers Honor Roll. She spent a summer in Thailand teaching students English and is an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) conversation facilitator at her local library. She practices yoga and enjoys reading and cooking.

Dr. Jonas Salk, a 1934 graduate of City College, developed the polio vaccine in 1955.  He turned down a ticker-tape parade in honor of his discovery, asking that the money be used for scholarships. The city provided initial funding for the Salk Scholarships in 1955.

The endowment provides a stipend of $8,000 per scholar, to be appropriated over three or four years of medical studies, to help defray medical school costs. Salk Scholars also receive achievement citations and diagnostic kits that include an otoscope and ophthalmoscope.

The Salk Scholarships will be awarded at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11, in the William and Anita Newman Conference Center at Baruch College, 151 E. 25th St., 7th floor.

The keynote speakers will be Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, professors in the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. Dr. Himmelstein, who earned his medical degree from Columbia University, had been an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the division of social and community medicine at Cambridge Hospital.

Dr. Woolhandler, who earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University, had been professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, where she co-directed the general internal medicine fellowship program and practiced primary-care internal medicine at Cambridge Hospital. In 1990 - 91, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health-policy fellow at the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Congress.

Co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program, they co-edit the program’s newsletter and are the principal authors of program articles published in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and The New England Journal of Medicine.

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