Abhi Sanka, Genomes in Our Lives, Class of 2016

"Before Duke, I was a passionate political junkie. Although strongly motivated by an intense love for the world that was Washington D.C., I also deeply respected medicine and science given their immense impact upon the human condition. Above all else, however, I enjoyed leadership in the service of others and applying a critical mind towards making a difference. I wanted a university where I could explore my interests, test my values, and chart a course for a future after college. With a strong public policy program, renowned science departments, and distinct interdisciplinary spirit captured by programs like FOCUS, Duke seemed like the perfect place to go to college. After coming to Duke, I carved out a niche fitting both my academic interests and intellectual values. Through the Focus Program, I found a home in the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy (IGSP). We explored the nexus of science, medicine and policy, learning about the history of the human genome project, gene patenting, biobanking, and data sharing. After the Focus Program, I wanted to translate my academic experience into a tangible professional setting. Through Dr. Hunt Willard, Director of the IGSP, I obtained an internship at Northwestern’s Center for Genetic Medicine (CGM). At Northwestern’s CGM I was introduced to the realm of implementation science and translational policy, the development and integration of novel technologies in health care delivery systems. I shadowed Maureen Smith, the Director of the CGM, as the center worked through the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network, a consortium organized by NHGRI, to explore avenues to incorporate genetic variants into electronic medical records for use in clinical care. This experience, understood through a lens provided by my coursework, broadened my understanding of medicine as dynamic, requiring business, policy and leadership to be successful. Today, I am emboldened with the desire of implementing new technologies towards improving health care delivery systems."

Photo Credit: Samit Patel