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Medical Innovators

Fourth-Year Students

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I enjoyed learning how to formulate questions and brainstorm solutions in my graduate engineering training. Throughout our medical education here at Vanderbilt, MIDP offers the exciting opportunity to extend these skills to observe and ask questions pertaining to healthcare, with the ultimate goal to bridge the gap between academia, medicine, and industry.

Ariel Kniss, Ph.D.Ariel Kniss, Ph.D.
Graduate School: Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory School of Medicine,
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering – Biomedical Engineering



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MIDP offers the opportunity for us to apply our science and engineering training to advance healthcare. Innovation is the future of medicine and I couldn’t be more thrilled and grateful to be a part of it through MIDP at Vanderbilt!

Jessica Wen, Ph.D.
Graduate School: University of California, Riverside – Bioengineering



Third-Year Students

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My aspiration to help patients through medical innovation took root during my Ph.D. program. I had the opportunity to interact with patients and healthcare providers in clinical settings and was tasked with identifying problems and leveraging my engineering background to propose solutions. These experiences led me to a position at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where I worked in multidisciplinary teams alongside clinicians and scientists reviewing neurological and neurosurgical medical devices. Although I played an important role getting patients access to new medical devices by helping investigators and device developers understand and navigate complex regulatory processes, I was unable to participate in idea generation, development, or translation of new technology to the bedside. I wanted to become an active innovator and sought a way to combine my engineering education and regulatory experience with a medical education. Vanderbilt’s MIDP is the only program that provides the perfect intersection between medicine and engineering to create physician-engineers in an atmosphere that fosters collaboration and innovation.

John ‘Nicky’ Grimes, Ph.D.
Graduate School: University of Florida
J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering – Biomedical Engineering


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MIDP has a focus on translating health discovery into clinical applications. I am passionate about improving patients’ health and transforming medicine. I believe MIDP’s integrative training and unique opportunities will help me acquire skills to become a medical doctor and a translational innovator.

Yongxu ‘Joyce’ Huang, Ph.D.
Graduate School: University of Pittsburgh – Epidemiology



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I’m passionate about engineering/technology innovation applied to global health and this program and institution bring interdisciplinary capabilities and expertise under one unified mission to help me achieve my goals.

Sai Rajagopalan, Ph.D.
Graduate School: The Ohio State University, Mechanical Engineering



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While working as a medical physicist, I began to recognize the tremendous potential for contributing disruptive technologies in medical imaging by combining my existing expertise as a physicist with training as a physician. No other program resonated with that goal as fully as Vanderbilt’s MIDP. The warmth of the Vanderbilt and MIDP families and the vibrancy of Nashville were icing on the cake and made MIDP the best choice for me.

Adrian Sanchez, Ph.D.
Graduate School: University of Chicago – Medical Physics



Second-Year Students

gold quotation markVanderbilt’s MIDP provides both a unique opportunity to apply my engineering skills to the solution of outstanding medical problems as well as the training necessary to realize those solutions in the clinical environment.

Hunter Sceats, Ph.D.
Graduate School: Colorado School of Mines, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering


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In my experiences both in the lab and in the clinic, I have found that the goal is not just to find the right answer but to ask the right questions. What I value about MIDP is the training to both ask better questions within clinical settings as well as find better solutions to innovate and transform healthcare. In addition, the community offered by the MIDP at Vanderbilt is incredibly warm and welcoming, which promises to support me both as a friend and as a developing medical innovator.

Emily Thomas, Ph.D.
Graduate School: Rice University



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After working for a few years in the national laboratory system, I decided to pursue a calling where I could serve people more directly. When I first met with the MIDP students, faculty, and staff and learned about the program, I was so excited by the opportunity this program presented me. The MIDP allows me to utilize my previous training and experience to address engineering challenges in the translation of bench research to clinical application while still working with patients as a physician engineer. Although I am still unsure where this journey will take me, I know this program offers me the flexibility to find my path. I am grateful to be a part of this program!

Adam Hetzler, Ph.D.
Graduate School: Texas A&M University, Nuclear Engineering



First-Year Students

gold quotation markI immediately felt at home in MIDP, where my interests in problem-solving and empathetic healthcare were equally valued. The community is welcoming and full of deeply curious individuals with an infectious enthusiasm to think big. Additionally, the curriculum supports the incubation of ideas and the faculty provides the sponsorship to bring those ideas into reality. Specifically, the leadership helps students build bridges to other fields for collaboration and inspiration. MIDP equips students with an invaluable background, skillset, and network for becoming a compassionate physician-innovator.

-Eden Lyons, Ph.D.
Graduate School: Stanford University School of Medicine – Immunology



gold quotation markI chose MIDP because of its unique focus on leveraging our scientific skills to create new technologies that benefit patients. Although I have a strong technical background from my Ph.D., I believe that MIDP will teach me to identify clinical needs and understand the process it takes to make new medical technologies a reality. Furthermore, the program’s culture is incredibly welcoming, and Vanderbilt’s focus on interdisciplinary collaboration provides an outstanding environment to foster medical innovation. I believe that medical innovation is essential for the future, and I am very excited and thankful to be a part of this bold and innovative program.

-Dennis Zhou, Ph.D.
Graduate School: Georgia Tech – Bioengineering



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When I decided to pursue a career in medicine, I knew that I wanted to build upon my Ph.D. and postdoctoral work to solve problems that would directly impact patient care. This desire to translate my applied-scientist training to meet the challenges of healthcare in the clinic lead me to apply to the MIDP at Vanderbilt. With a mission to bridge the gap between academia, industry, and health, the program offers an extensive array of resources and opportunities designed to help me attain my goals. Moreover, the program nurtures an environment of openness and curiosity and encourages its students to find their own unique path in medicine. I am very excited to be a part of such a supportive community.

 -Pulak Goswami, Ph.D.
Graduate School: University of Texas at Austin – Mathematics