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“And that,” said my allergist, pricking my back before moving a couple inches, selecting a new vial of food particle and repeating, “is why you react to nuts so strongly. We’re trying to see now if you’re allergic to anything else.” My back itched incessantly, but my mind was occupied. It was there, as I sat with pinpoint pricks crisscrossing my back, that my fascination with immunology was born.
This interest in the immune system stemmed from a lifelong curiosity for microbiology. My fascination with the unseen started in the first grade with a science fair project on environments conducive to mold growth on bread. A couple years later, I was diagnosed with food allergies to tree-nuts and became fixated on allergies and immunology, how and why our body reacted so strongly to these harmless substances. These areas have been a passion of mine ever since. I have shadowed my local allergist a few times and this has served to fuel my fascination, as well as attended multiple national Food Allergy Research conferences. I hope to utilize Cornell’s vast resources to explore additional methods for food allergy relief, such as the known oral tolerance induction that has had such success with peanut allergy. As I hope to pursue clinical allergy, I am particularly excited by Weill Cornell Medicine and its proximity to other notable research venues like the Hospital for Special Surgery and The Rockefeller University. In addition, I was intrigued by Dr. Crystal’s contributions not only to A1AT deficiency but also in using gene therapy to remediate peanut allergy. I would be thrilled to participate with the doctor in both of those projects if possible. A second enduring interest has been epidemiology, especially with a focus on the diseases themselves. The study of these invisible invaders has been a penchant of mine for as long as I could read for myself, likely stemming from the aforementioned mold experiment. The very first book I bought for myself? An Osbourne classic on the most impactful diseases through history. My third grade independent study project was on the cause and factors of the spread of the bubonic plague in medieval Europe in the 1300s. Since then, I’ve nurtured my interests for disease and its spread through various independent research projects. I had a field day during the Ebola craze, a few years back, researching its likelihood of traveling, the WHO’s response plans to viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks and cases, and explaining to anyone who would listen about how Ebola impacts the immune system and describing its deadly path through the body. I’d like to do some research on hantaviruses during my undergraduate study, and Cornell’s dedication to its research label and its penchant for undergraduate research makes it a great fit. One of the courses that caught my eye was Pathogenic Bacteriology. Its emphasis on host-pathogen interaction would allow me to study in greater detail an interest I’ve had since the first grade.
Cornell’s atmosphere of intellectual enthusiasm would be a conducive learning environment and I hope to benefit from its multitude of resources to grow as a student and a life-long learner.
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