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Sample Personal Statement for Neurobiology

When I first saw the structural diagram of the mysterious DNA double helix, listening to my high school biology teacher’s explanation of this most fundamental information material of the human body on which even the entire biological world depends; and when I commenced my medical studies after entering university, verifying my hypotheses through laboratory experiments, I could not help marveling and feeling excited over this exquisite structure where secrets of life inhabit. My excitement comes from the fact that by studying biology (neurobiology in particular), experiencing its sophisticated knowledge and its challenges, I may develop myself into a biological specialist who can use my talents to the fullest possible extent and who can live up to the sacredness that this science represents.

I used to believe that a good command of existing clinical knowledge and skills alone could make for a competent physician and enable one to perform the sacred obligations conferred on him or her by the profession. However, after completing my five-year undergraduate program in the specialty of clinical medicine at the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai, I found that, although modern medical science can solve a great many problems, it remains ineffectual with regard to some maladies. The treatment of some diseases has produced results that are far from satisfactory. I came to the realization that a genuinely qualified physician should have the ability to probe into the nature of diseases, not merely in possession of the requisite medical knowledge and skills.

Although I majored in clinical medicine as an undergraduate (my GPA 85/100,ranking 20/183), I am more interested in basic medicine. Biochemistry and molecular biology were the two courses that fascinated me most in that they deepened my intellectual understanding of this subject. The solution to many problematic diseases ultimately depends on the pathological studies on the molecular level. As a branch of basic medicine, neurobiology studies man’s nervous system, especially the brain, through the basic approaches of molecular biology and immunology with a view to ultimately understanding the brain’s basic physiological and pathological mechanisms. A newly-emerged interdisciplinary subject, neurobiology is closely combined with clinical practices, a fact which ensures a tremendous prospect for neurobiology. Its development will play a decisive role in diagnosing and treating the diseases in the nervous system. However, our understanding in this aspect is very tentative and superficial. Many mechanisms, particularly the operation mechanism of the brain’s basic physiological functions, are still rather perplexing.

In neurobiology, I am most interested in the regeneration of nerve cells and the mechanism whereby ischaemia and anoxia affect central nerve cells. If an approach can be discovered which can effectively promote nerve cell regeneration, then breakthroughs can be achieved in the treatment of cerebrovascular sequelae and epilepsy by relying on the neurobiology’s study of the genetic induction mechanism of the brain cell’s growth and development.

For the past one year after my graduation, I have been working as a research assistant at the Institution of Neurobiology of Fourth Military Medical University. Apart from translating a large quantity of technical literature published in English, I have undertaken studies, as a member of a research team, concerning the central mechanism of stress and the relationship between immunological reactions and the nervous system. The research is based on molecular biological technology and immunological cytochemistry technology. Specifically, these technologies include in situ hybridization technique, western blotting technique, single clone antibody technique, Fos technique, and electron microscopic technique. Our repeated experiments verified the hypothesis that oxytocin(OXY) is perhaps one of the media whereby the central nervous system (CNS) regulates the immunological system through the endocrine system. At the same time, we discovered that within the brain the nerve nucleus mass (consisting of supraoptic nucleus, sideoptic nucleus, and Hippocampus) produces a modulating effect on the immunological system. In addition, I conducted studies concerning the medium through which immunological signals are transmitted to the brain. By blotting the reactions of the Vegus nerve to the central media in immunological activation, such as pyrexia, hyperalgia, food ingestion and the environment, I undertook many experiments in which I studied the changes of those behaviors and the effects produced by sideoptic nucleus c-Fos protein expression , central IL-1βmRNA expression, the exhaustion of noradrenaline in the hypothalamus, cortisol concentration in the blood and the conditioned geumaphobia induced by cell factors, and proved that the Vagus nerve plays an important role in converting immunological information into nervous information and in the transmission of those information.

Nevertheless, along with those discoveries, problems also abounded. Many mechanisms still await to be elucidated, a task that seems challenging and virtually impossible with the present level of technology in China. My growing awareness of the knowledge deficiencies on my part has prompted me to seek advanced studies in the United States where sophisticated research facilities as well as original experimental concepts and methodologies make it possible to explore optimum solutions to the problems in the field of neurobiology. The University of # # #, in particular, takes a leading role in the research of neurobiology. Your strong research-intensive academic atmosphere and powerful faculty deeply fascinate me. Their fruitful instructions will make my academic pursuit a very rewarding one. Most importantly, by learning the most advanced knowledge and expertise of neurobiology at your esteemed university, I will come closer to developing myself into an accomplished specialist in neurobiology. Upon completing my proposed degree program, I will immediately return to my present institution to continue with my research. Frankly, the present research level in neurobiology is comparatively low in China. I see this as an occasion whereby I can contribute to the development of neurobiology research in China.

My academic and personal qualities make me believe that I possess all the necessary qualifications for undertaking this degree program. I have a good command of English language, as indicated by the facts from various standard tests. As for neurobiology itself, I have learned many important courses in this specialty in my undergraduate program and achieved excellent scores, laying a solid foundation for finishing my prospective program with equal excellence. I am also proud of my experience in labwork, which has allowed me to develop a good mastery of the fundamental research methodologies and experimental techniques in neurobiology. More importantly, I have the proper attitude of a well-trained researcher—be meticulous in search for scientific accuracy and be relentless in pursuing scientific truth. I believe that all problems can be resolved through persistent efforts and perseverance will be my guarantee in overcoming difficulties. As part of research team, I have developed an unmistakable awareness of teamwork, knowing that individual efforts are insufficient in tackling sophisticated issues, which usually call for the concerted efforts of every team member. Finally, throughout my past research experience, my experimental skills, my analytical and problem-solving abilities have been increasingly improved. Therefore, although I realize that I am bound to encounter a diversity of difficulties and come into an environment full of competition and pressure in my future program, I will be adept at adjusting myself to the new environment and ready for meeting all challenges.

I have formulated a tentative plan for completing your program. First, I will further learn and master major research methodologies to lay a solid foundation for undertaking more important researches. Next, I will endeavor to o a good job in all the basic coursework in neurobiology and systematically learn neurobiological theories and make full use of all available opportunities to conduct extensive experiments and internships to test the theoretical knowledge. I will also closely follow the latest development of this discipline in China and, by assimilating all the useful knowledge and information, I will try to make some unique contributions to this field of study.

Copernicus represents the kind of spirit of scientific research from which I can draw constant inspirations. In an age filled with ignorance and bigotry, he upheld truth and defended his belief at the expense of his life. If I am ready to sacrifice everything in my future intellectual pursuit following the example of Copernicus, I am convinced that there is no challenge that cannot be conquered.


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