This personal statement was part of this student’s successful application to Imperial College London for Medical Biosciences, UCL, University of Sheffield, University of Edinburgh and King’s College London for Biomedical Science.
Following an independent research project in Biology, I was motivated to learn more on the oncogenic behaviour of human cells and their cellular origin. This really piqued my interest and consolidated my decision to study Biomedicine. Researching the behaviour of cancer cells that regenerate, even after being exposed to some aggressive cytotoxins, motivated me to explore the fundamentals of cancer stem cell theory. This stem cell-like behaviour of cancer cells provides me with a completely different perspective on conventional cancer theory, the theory upon which current treatments and therapies are based.
‘Therapeutic Potential of Differentiation in Cancer and Normal Stem Cells’ explained that multiple oncogenic mutations can affect normal stem cells, resulting in the formation of cancer stem cells. One key point that struck me is the importance of maintaining the cells’ quiescent state as any abnormalities will cause uncontrolled proliferation and a possible development of tumours. Applying the fundamentals of stem cells and differentiation in A-Level Biology, I discovered that cancer stem cells and normal stem cells share characteristics such as self-renewal and longevity. These common properties have introduced me to possible improvements in regenerative medicine to prevent the development of cancer cells. I am eager to learn more on how the reprogramming of cells can avoid the occurrence of cancer, in addition to its wider role in biomedical research such as facilitating the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
I have recently been reading about the use of oncolytic virus as an alternative cancer treatment and have found some interesting and informative articles on this virus that have challenged my perception on the role of viruses in molecular biology such as TVEC which can cure melanoma. I am fascinated by the modification of HSV-1 gene which prevents the occurrence of fever blisters and how this has resulted in the invention of TVEC that targets tumour cells rather than normal cells. The development of TVEC over three phases of clinical trials, prior to approval by the FDA as the first oncolytic virus in the US, has emphasised to me the importance of validating drugs prior to their mainstream use. Thalidomide is a perfect example of how things can go wrong if these precautions are not taken. I am looking forward to understanding more about these topics while studying the control of gene expression in Molecular Biology as an undergraduate.
My decision to pursue Biomedical Science was consolidated after presenting in multiple innovation exhibitions. I realised the importance of research studies in improving health care as I discovered the cytotoxic effect of Nephelium Lappaceum on cancer cells from a participant at one of these events. I am now able to effectively critique scientific articles which proved to be invaluable when undertaking my independent research. As well as gaining insight into a wide range of Biology topics, I established an ability to think analytically and therefore be organised in planning studies as a researcher.
As a leader in the Duke of Edinburgh International Gold Award expedition, I demonstrated resilience and perseverance in accomplishing the journey. I am a confident communicator and have established problem-solving skills which serve me well during academic discourse. Additionally, within school, I have contributed proactively to my community such as by organising a charity event to empower female refugees and asylum seekers.
These opportunities were made possible because I was awarded the Central Bank of Malaysia scholarship in recognition of my academic achievement. I will maximise these opportunities that I am delighted to have received, to strive for the best for my country and myself through studying Biomedical Science.
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