Microbiology Research Interests Essay

Sample Personal Statement for Ph.D. in Immunology

To become a successful clinical physician who can be the guardian of human health and life, this was my one-time ambition that I believe I would pursue. However, a memorable experience during my internship prior to the undergraduate graduation completely changed my mind. When I witnessed how a patient suffering from lymphatic cancer was tortured, minute by minute, by the agony of approaching his death and yet had to undergo the immense physical pains brought by chemical therapy, radioactive therapy and other trauma-producing therapeutic measures, I experienced a deep sorrow and regret for my not being able to help him alleviate his pain.

I know that at present clinical level there are still many tough problems remain unsolved, such as the deciphering of the pathogeny of auto-immune diseases and its corresponding prevention and treatment. Only through colossal research work in immunology will it be possible to arrive at some tentative treatment of such diseases. Therefore, when I graduated from XX Medical College,I decided to stay at my Alma Mater to take up research in immunology, which is closely connected with basic medicine and is . By now, initial progress has been achieved. Realizing the need to further upgrade my professional knowledge and expertise, I file this application for a Ph.D. program in immunology at the University of XX.

Compared with numerous other applicants, I believe that my unique advantage dwells in the strong motivation in life science and in basic medicine that I have maintained over the years. But more importantly, it is embodied by the academic success I have achieved in my 5-year undergraduate education in medical science and in the development of strong ability to perform independent medical research in my two-year work experience.

My undergraduate program in clinical medicine encompassed approximately 30 courses across basic medicine and clinical medicine. I was particularly interested in those sub-disciplines of biological science that demand cogent logical analysis and creative thinking. Immunology fascinated me most. That was because it is a science that exploits the principle that the immunological system of all living organisms can produce rejection effect against any alien intruder or against their own mutants and provides completely new solutions to the diverse phenomena displayed by different strains and individual organisms and to their diseases. The concepts and methodologies of immunology promise to solve related problems across different fields. My academic performance during those five years should be described as “outstanding”, with my scores ranking first among a total of 280 students in the entire grade. For this, I was awarded special-class Scholarship for Outstanding Student for 6 times throughout my undergraduate career.

Apart from coursework, I participated in academic exchange activities as student representative of our college. In 2000, I made a presentation entitled “A General Description of Cellular Apoptosis and Clinical Application” at the First Youth Forum on Pathology in XX Province and my presentation was given the Winning Prize by professors of pathology present at the forum. In addition to that, I had always made conscious efforts to improve my experimental skills and hands-on abilities. I achieved straight A’s in all the internship-related subjects in my last year of undergraduate program, winning the honor of Outstanding Interning Student from the hospital where I interned. In my college itself, I served as the chairman of the Extracurricular Pathological and Pharmacological Study Group,winning first prizes for myself or for my group at various knowledge contests in Human Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, Pathology, and Basic Medicine.

Upon my graduation, I chose to take up a teaching position at my Alma Mater. This gave me the precious opportunity to apply my knowledge and to be further exposed to research. Besides working as a teaching assistant at Microbiology and Immunology Department, I devoted most of time to advanced self-education in immunology. For two years, I have been responsible for delivering both theoretical and (pre-)experimental courses in microbiology and immunology in the entire college, as well as after-class coaching. I have been the first in my Department to propose that educational reform be introduced into our Department to adopt the heuristic method of elicitation and bilingual education (Chinese and English). In a project in which my college collaborated with the Medical College of XX University on the preparation of the pool of questions on immunology and microbiology, I was responsible for preparing questions concerning two chapters on immunology and three chapters on microbiology. I audited and self-studied many courses for graduate students and joined in their experiments. I have mastered basic experimental skills in cell biology, molecular biology, immunology and microbiology, ranging from aseptic technique, cell culture, lymphocyte separation, gel electrophoresis, immunblotting to immunofluorescence technique.

At present, I am undertaking my own research project—Study on the Expression Level of CTLA-4(Cytotoxic T Lymph Antigen-4)in the CD4+T of Systematic Lupus Erythematosus(SLE). In view of the relationship between the CTLA-4 as an inhibiting co-stimulating cell and the genesis of SLE and its level of severity, as well as the abnormal pattern of the subpopulation of the T cell in the peripheral blood of the SLE patients, I suggest that, in the genesis and development of the SLE, the abnormal expression of CTLA-4 and other inhibiting cells in T lymph cells can lead to distribution disequilibrium of the subpopulation of T cells in an organism, creating abnormal patterns in immune responses and thereby facilitating the development of this type of auto-immune diseases. The significance of my research project lies in the fact that the pathogeny of the auto-immune diseases in the SLE category can be explicated through the activation of lymph cells and signal transduction in the immunological system. In this way, the view that CTLA-4 is an intervening and regulating point in the prevention of SLE and other auto-immune diseases will receive stronger support and the key to intervention and regulation becomes more likely to be discovered.

As an interdisciplinary subject that is of cutting-edge significance, immunology offers many exciting yet challenges fields for research breakthroughs. As far as I am concerned, I am most interested in the research on auto-immune diseases and on tumor. Specifically, I am very enthusiastic about studying the disequilibrium of the subpopulation of cells in organism caused by those diseases, the role of dendritic cells (DC), and other topics. I would like to approach those issues from such perspectives as the activation of immunocytes, the co-stimulating cells of proliferation, and the activated signal transduction.

To fulfill my aspirations, I deem it necessary to seek a Ph.D. degree from the University of XX. As is universally acknowledged, the United States is performing leading research in basic medicine and your esteemed university enjoys a specially high academic reputation in the field of biomedical research. The famous XX Center is based in your university. The most important factor is that your program offers research fields I am intensely interested in. I believe that your education will broaden my knowledge horizon, expose me to distinguished professors and their original concepts and creative teaching. I will also learn advanced theories of immunology and sophisticated experimental skills. Ultimately I hope that I can become part of the process that human beings use advanced research findings to decipher the mysteries of life and the genesis of diseases. The early clinical application of those research findings will undoubtedly make our life better.


Sample Essay

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My long-term goal is to dedicate myself to the research field of neuroscience. In order to achieve this goal, I hope to acquire my Ph.D. at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine starting in the fall of 2000.

In 1992, I obtained my MA degree in Molecular Microbiology from Indiana University, Bloomington. At I.U., I received intensive training by Dr. Roger Innes in experimental design, logical thinking, and molecular genetics techniques. After I graduated from I.U., I became a lab supervisor in the clinical cytogenetic laboratory at Tzu Chi College of Medicine, Taiwan. The lab is part of TCCM's newly established genetic research team directed by Dr. Ming-Liang Lee. My responsibilities at the lab included training lab technicians, improving testing accuracy by consistently improving technical skills and knowledge, and managing the lab's day-to-day operations. At TCCM, I also taught several fundamental biology courses, including general biology, cell biology, and medical genetics laboratory.

After five years of working, I decided to pursue more advanced research training in the latest techniques of microbiology. Since the fall of 1998, I have been taking several Ph.D.-level courses at New York University. I have performed very well in my studies there, which have been supported by a fellowship from Taiwan's National Science Council. My courses at NYU are Biochemistry I and II, Molecular Principles of Evolution, Cell Biology, Molecular Controls of Organism Form and Function, Neuroimmunology Journal Club, and Physiology Basis of Behavior. I am also researching in Dr. Joseph LeDoux's lab for credit. At this lab, I have been using immunohistochemistry to detect the activation of track receptors in rat brains after fear conditioning. One of the tracks, trkB, responds to BDNF, which is related to synaptogenesis and LTP induction in the processes of learning and memory. My results have shown that the phosphorylation peak of trk appears in the hippocampal CA1 area 24 hours after fear conditioning. Further blocking experiments using trk antagonist need to be performed in order to confirm this result.

My laboratory experience has triggered my strong interest in studying cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurological diseases. The majority of patients with these diseases have chromosomal and genetic abnormalities. Most genetic diseases lead to neurological symptoms, and several neurological diseases are associated with strong genetic predispositions. The genetic defects associated with Alzheimer's Disease, alcoholism, Fragile-X Syndrome, Neurofibrmatosis, and Parkinson's Disease have already been mapped. However, the links between genes, gene products, neuronal circuits, brain functions, and diseases are still unclear. I am eager to help uncover these links.

I think that Mt. Sinai's Ph.D. program perfectly suits my interests. The faculty includes experts in several divisions of neuroscience. There is an especially large group studying neurological diseases. The group uses various approaches, animal models, and behavioral paradigms to search for the causes of diseases on the molecular, cellular, physiological, and system levels. I am particularly interested in working in Dr. John Morrison's lab, which studies cortical organizations, glutamate receptors, and neurodegenerative disorders; Dr. Patrick Hof's lab, which uses comparative neuroanatomy to study aging; Dr. Giulio Pasinetti's lab, which studies cyclooxygenase and inflammation in Alzheimer's Disease; and Dr. Charles Mobbs's lab, which uses molecular, histological, behavioral, and electrophysiological methods to study basic mechanisms underlying metabolic diseases and aging.

Mt. Sinai School of Medicine also attracts me because of its location in an extremely nice area of Manhattan. In addition, the strong collaboration between its neuroscience program and its other departments, its affiliated hospital, and many other outstanding New York laboratories will enable me to receive much technical and academic support.

In order to sponsor my Ph.D. education, I have obtained a competitive Ph.D. fellowship from the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-Chi Foundation, the largest nonprofit organization in Taiwan. The foundation is dedicated to helping needy all over the world, regardless of age, sex, race, and religion. Over the past decades, it has provided worldwide relief and assistance. Its missions focus on charity, medical care, education, and international relief. The founder, Master Chang Yang, was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The foundation will support my Ph.D. education for at least four years.

After completing my Ph.D. education, I plan to continue my research and teaching in neuroscience. Thus far, most of the detailed work in studying neurological disease has of necessity been performed in experimental animal systems. However, the progress of human genome mapping might eventually make it possible to test whether the disease mechanisms discovered in animals function in comparable ways in humans. Consequently, in the future, I hope to apply my knowledge of the genes and proteins involved in neurological diseases to develop pharmacological treatment or genetic therapies. I am confident that one day we will have effective drugs to prevent memory loss or aging. We may even be able to cure currently intractable neurological diseases through gene therapies, either in utero or in live humans.

I am confident that Mount Sinai School of Medicine's graduate program will enable me to successfully meet my goals. I also believe that if I am accepted to your Ph.D. program, I will contribute greatly to Mount Sinai's learning environment.

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