Monday, April 30, 2012

University of Oklahoma Chemical Engineering Student Receives NIH Medical Scientist Training Program Grant

Norman, Okla.—A University of Oklahoma chemical engineering senior is the recipient of the prestigious NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences Medical Scientist Training Program grant.

Brandon Smith, a fifth-year senior from Houston, will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering, pre-med option. Smith has accepted the stipend and tuition allowance for up to eight years, at which time he will have completed a combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree.

“In receiving this prestigious NIH Training grant, Brandon Smith has demonstrated his great personal talent and hard work and the excellence of OU’s undergraduate program in the medical sciences,” said OU President David L. Boren.

Smith will attend the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. After two years in Houston, he will attend Rice University for three to four years in pursuit of a doctorate in bioengineering, then transfer back to Baylor to complete his medical degree.

“We’re pleased, but not surprised, that Brandon has been accepted into this prestigious program,” said Lance Lobban, director of the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering. “Brandon has done much more than earn top grades in his coursework. He’s also been an exemplary citizen and leader, serving as a mentor and tutor for sophomore chemical engineering students in our Chevron Phillips Mentor program and giving his time in numerous volunteer activities at OU and in the community.”

Smith cites his family history as playing a role in his success at OU. In May, he will become the third generation of his family with diplomas bearing the University of Oklahoma seal. His grandfather, father, mother, sister and cousin have degrees from OU. Smith prides himself on having taken his father’s advice to heart when he was a senior in high school contemplating his summer plans. “Dad encouraged me to start thinking about what I wanted to do,” Smith said. “I thought I’d like to go into the medical field, so I volunteered at the local hospital and took a basic life support class.”

Smith declared chemical engineering, pre-med option as an incoming freshman, knowing if he didn’t pursue a medical career, he would have many options as a chemical engineer, including a promising career in pharmaceuticals, drug development, the oil industry, among others. But his passion for becoming a physician did not wane.

Smith recognizes this chapter in his higher education journey will soon come to a close. However, he is keenly aware of the benefits his OU education has afforded him by the connections he has made along the way. Richard Wainerdi, OU alumnus and president of the Texas Medical Center, introduced Smith to Thomas Krouskop at the National Center for Human Performance in Houston, where he would spend two summers as an intern. He then interned one summer at the Shriner’s Hospital in Houston, a facility specializing in children’s cerebral palsy and the treatment of burns. Smith also shadowed a cardiothoracic surgeon in Raleigh, N.C., a total of four weeks: two weeks for two summers.

From more than 180 fields, Smith has narrowed the field in which he hopes to specialize to cardiology or neurology.

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