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Sample Personal Statement for Basic Medical Sciences

Many people go through life like a ship lost at sea with no sense of direction, simply drifting around wherever that events in life happen to take them. Unlike those people, I have always had a definite objective in my life, my academic life in particular. When I entered the Health Science Center of xx University 4 years ago, in September 2000, I had but one objective—to do a good job in my specialty of basic medical sciences. Having fulfilled this goal, I have now formulated yet another important objective—to pursue a Ph.D. program in Neuroscience by building on my past academic training.

My decision to choose Neuroscience as the concentration of my Ph.D. program is related to two internships I conducted at xx Institute of xx University. From March to October 2003, I researched on the astrogliosis in culture effect of antisense GFAP, focusing on astroglial scar formation. A unique “scratch wound” model was adopted to facilitate the research. I first used phase contrast microscope to trace morphological change of reactive astrocyte, which I found to be closely associated with dynamics of different cytoskeletons. To elucidate their roles in the process, I used specific antisense to microfilament, microtubule, and glial fibrillary acid protein. Only GFAP antisense produced effect. By using different molecular methods (such as western blot, RT-PCR, and staining), I proved that the effect was actually caused by the silencing of GFAP. In the end, the culture findings were confirmed in an in vivo stab wound model and antisense GFAP was discovered to be an effective inhibitor on astrogliosis, facilitating the neurons to recuperate and repair from damages and to re-establish their functions.

In another internship (from March to the end of 2004), I undertook another research in which I discovered that the electro-acupuncture could reduce the CPP score in the rat with chronic morphine addiction by 50%. Furthermore, this made it easier for the rat to get through the withdrawal period. Through those two crucial internship experiences, I acquired strong hands-on skills in behavioral experiments, CPP, morphine physical dependence model, molecular biology experiments, PCR, western blotting, and, most importantly, in designing research projects. Having accumulated these tentative research experience, I have become increasingly aware of my strong research potential; hence I am all the more determined to pursue a Ph. D. program in neuroscience.

Academically, my 5-year undergraduate program at the Health Science Center of xx University, the most prestigious institution of medical teaching and research in China, endows me with a most solid foundation for your highly respected program. As a student of basic medical sciences, I have received a specialized academic training in a whole spectrum of core subjects known for both their depth and breadth. In particular, I have excelled in courses like biochemistry, physiology and immunology, three most fundamental courses which gave me an overall picture of medical sciences and a broad framework in which to pursue my academic interests. Physiology and advanced neurobiology sensitized me to the potential fields on which I might concentrate while experiment of molecular biology improved my practical skills necessary for a well-trained medical scientist.

I have been especially enlightened by two classic books I have read. Roitt’s Essential Immunology (10th Edition) by I. M. Roitt and P. J. Delves called my attention to the experimental nature of medical sciences and facilitated my development of dexterous experiment skills, deviating from the emphasis on theoretic issues over hands-on capabilities characteristic of most Chinese students. Another book Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain (2nd Edition) by M. F. Bear, B. W. Connors and M. A. Paradiso helped reinforce my interest in neuroscience by expanding my ken of knowledge.

Relevant to your program is the graduation project I am currently working on—xx. The expected achievement of my project is to prove that EA can enhance the expression of both BDNF and GDNF so as to inhibit opioid addiction. The significance of the research lies in its possibility to help cure drug dependence and the possible techniques would involve morphine physical dependence model, RT-PCR, western blot, etc. Through this project, my research potential will be further exploited and research objectives better defined.

The more I become exposed to neuroscience, the more I feel the need to learn. In July 2004, I attended the xx International Symposium. With “Science for a Better Life” as its theme, the symposium attracted 2000 participants worldwide, including American scholars and professors and Nobel laureates. I was especially impressed by the presentation on the xx by xx and xx, two researchers from University of xx Medical Center. They reported on how they used a multiple-electrode recording technique to find a novel effect of morphine, a classic opioid drug, on the firing pattern of brain noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC) neurons. As their research happened within my area of specialization, their presentation shed light on my understanding of the development of opioid addiction. In addition, my clinical practice at xx Hospital from August 2003 to January 2004 further directed my attention to the need for sophisticated neuroscience research in order to alleviate the agonies of so many patients.

In my plan for future career development, seeking a Ph.D. program comes as my top priority because I believe academic growth leads to professional development. For this reason, I am interested in the Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences-neurosciences of the University of xx. Among your 7 faculty areas of specialization, I find behavioral neuroscience most closely matched to my accumulated lab experiences. Under your program, I will enroll in a core group of graduate neuroscience courses that will provide me with broad knowledge of the various sub-disciplines of neuroscience and exposure to the techniques used in research. Among your broad spectrum of specialized courses, I am most keen on Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Cell Structure and Function, Neurobiology. I am interested in researching on Stem Cells and Neural Regeneration and Neurobiology of Nociception. Meanwhile, I want to continue with the research I have carried out in China, to explore how peripheral electro-acupuncture affect the CNS-brain, why opioid addiction persists for life long and its possible therapy, and finally what is the exact mechanism of EA treatment of addiction and what the related brain areas are.

As a member of the bouldering branch of xx University Mountaineering Association (xx), I have long cultivated my stamina by surmounting every conceivable challenge. I believe this stamina is equally useful in my academic pursuit. With it, I will attain academic and professional excellence which may enable me to help countless people such as my mother who suffered from a stroke and some of my friends who are drug-addicted.

 


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