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Sample Personal Statement for Gene Therapy / Biology

I demonstrated my musical talent early in my life. At six, I started learning how to play the piano and by 12 I received the highest honor awarded to non-professional pianists—the Grade 10 Certificate for Non-Professional Piano Player. A popular notion is that art and science are mutually exclusive and that a person of artistic temperament would not be interested in science. Obviously, this does not apply to my case. I had the same intense passion for biology as for music because I believe that they ultimately share the same essential quality—passion. Just as Raymond Chandler said in his Great Thought: “There are two kinds of truth; the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art.”

Indeed, my passionate interest in biology underlay my outstanding scholastic performance throughout the 4-year undergraduate program at the Department of Biotechnology, Hunan Agriculture University. Over the past few years, I started with the study of fundamental courses like Advanced Mathematics, Organic Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry, through the more advanced, specialty-related courses like Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Immunology, to the courses about the cutting-edge technology in biology like Molecular Biology, Cell Engineering and Gene Engineering. This process in which I gradually delved deeper and deeper into my professional field, allowed me to perceive the infinite mysteries and the sophistication of the world of life science. Here, I not only had the opportunity to have a glimpse of the fabulous complexity and order of nature but also to experience the general rules behind the apparently diverse phenomena. Most importantly, I was overwhelmed, spiritually and intellectually, by the unusual imagination and the tremendous perseverance with which great masters of biology unraveled the mysterious veils of nature and life. Those masters include Charles Darwin, G. J. Mendel, and many others.

With a strong interest and dedicated efforts, I have been able to achieve excellent results in my academic performance. My overall GPA ranks top 3 among a total of 160 students in my grade. My scores for such courses as Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics are especially excellent. Yet, I have never been contented with my scholastic performance as represented by those test scores. I believe that those test scores cannot present a complete picture of a student’s overall academic qualities. Therefore, in order to broaden my horizon of knowledge and to improve my ability to understand technical literature written in English by Western authors, I self-studied Principle of Biochemistry by Prof. Lehninger, Molecular Biology Protocols by Prof. Mark Strorn,Cell Biology Topics edited by University of Arkansas,and the classics in immunology that include Kuby’s Immunology by Janis Kuby and Essential Immunology by Ivan Roiit.

While doing a good job in learning theoretical courses, I also paid significant attention to the cultivation and improvement of my experimental skills as I realized that biology is primarily experimental in nature. As early as the first year, I applied for a TA position in our department’s laboratory. At first, I could not even hold steady the pipette. However, after one semester, I showed remarkable progress in my experimental capabilities and I grasped various skills including DNA recombination, PCR, as well as Protein, DNA and RNA blotting, which are generally available to junior and senior students. On account of my outstanding experimental techniques, I was appointed leader of the experiment team for the subsequent two years for the course Molecular Biology.

Apart from enhancing my hands-on abilities through labwork, I also perfected my analytical and problem-solving competence, which in return laid a solid empirical foundation for my studies. For example, as a junior student, I completed an experimental project in molecular biology concerning the Interrelationship Between Chitosan and the Relevant Indicators of Obesity and the Functional Principles. This project won very good ratings from my advisor. In addition, I assisted my advisor by doing a fairly large amount of research work, including searching for and translating relevant technical literature, in a project that he headed, The Nanometer Fixation Yeast Plasmid Vehicle System.

With the least idea of becoming a bookworm, I endeavored to develop my qualities in other important aspects as I came to realize that comprehensive qualities are as essential to the success of a person’s career as are his professional qualities. Due to my relatively broad ken of knowledge and my sound logical reasoning and judgment, I was accepted since 2000 by the Invention and Innovation Magazine to work part-time as its editor-in-charge. This is a monthly magazine, the only one of its kind in China, that reports on the latest inventions and innovations that happen both in China and abroad. It is a special honor for me to work for this magazine, especially so considering the fact that I am the sole college student to work as editor-in-charge.

Currently, I am preparing my thesis (entitled # # #), which focuses on the gene expression in gene therapy. As is well-known, research on gene therapy is being carried out with gathering momentum on a worldwide scale. Gene therapy has expanded from the previous treatment of rare single-gene diseases to that of multi-gene diseases, from hereditary diseases to acquired diseases like malignant tumors, cardiovascular diseases, and AIDS. Within the existing framework of gene therapies, there are important flaws inherent in the gene lead-in system. For this reason, it is necessary to introduce modifications into the existing expression vehicles in order to obtain some vehicles with better target orientation and higher tissue specificity, vehicles that can be controlled precisely. In this way, they can be effectively applied clinically. This challenging research field is exactly what I am most interested in. I hope that in the degree program that I am going to embark on I can make some initial success in my research to lay a solid foundation for my more ambitious research projects in the future.

To better qualify myself for your advanced degree program in gene therapy, I have consciously availed myself of an important opportunity to participate in a training program. From August to October this year, I have been receiving systematic professional trainings at the Huada Genetic Research Center of China Academy of Sciences. (In September 1999, China became a member of International Human Genome Program in which Chinese scientists are responsible for testing the 30,000,000 pairs of basic group sequences on the short arm of No. 3 chromosome. The Huada Genetic Research Center is put in charge of the specific implementation of the project). This experience has permitted me to keep myself abreast of the latest developments of scholarly work in the international academia.

It is absolutely beyond doubt now that gene therapy will become one of the major research fields in biology in the future. Yet, there will still be a long time before comprehensive breakthroughs can be made in the area of gene therapy, which ultimately depend on the concerted endeavors of gene therapists the world over. As far as I am concerned, my individual efforts to contribute to this important process have just commenced with the writing of my thesis. In order to make my research efforts more fruitful, I have chosen to seek advanced studies in the United States and I regard the Institute of Human Gene Therapy (IHGT) of Pennsylvania University my first choice for undertaking my degree program. Pennsylvania University is reputed for its unparalleled prestige of academic excellence in the international academia in the fields of gene therapy and the development of gene medicines. It is my expectation that my long-cherished aspiration to pursue a scientific career can be continued at your most esteemed university where I can obtain the most rewarding education from distinguished genetic scientists. It would be a most unforgettable experience for me to study and to work under those scientists, to explore the evasive secrets of life, and to work out the health problems troubling mankind as a whole. Therefore, I sincerely wish that my application could be seriously considered.


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