Stewart Humble came to the Wade-Martins Lab at DPAG from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans during Michaelmas Term in October 2016 as part of the National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Programme (NIH-OxCam), an accelerated, individualised doctoral training programme, to help him make the transition to a Physician-Scientist career path. This opened up the world of basic science, translational research, and international collaboration. Over the summer of 2019, Stewart organised a lab symposium to encourage and inspire students from his home university to consider the opportunities available to them. This is the story of his journey to Oxford and what he has discovered here.
Stewart was not always on the path to becoming a Research Scientist. Having completed his undergraduate education at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, in his native US state of Louisiana, he entered medical school at LSU Health Science Center New Orleans in 2014. However, he felt something was missing, until he attended the LSU Neuroscience Grand Rounds lecture that presented a patient with epilepsy from New Orleans. “It helped me put together the piece that was missing, and for me that was doing meaningful research in the lab and being exposed to the most cutting-edge technologies. It was the first time I’d heard about translational research - bench to bedside - where research in the lab directly affects patient care.”
The groundwork for this lightbulb moment had already been laid during Stewart’s undergraduate degree. Between his third and fourth year in the summer of 2011, Stewart undertook study abroad in South Africa, led by Dean Nancy Clark, to fulfil one of the tenets of LSU’s Ogden Honors College curriculum, designed to enhance students’ educational experience. He visited a small rural village where mother to child transmission of HIV was prevalent. “It’s completely preventable, and while the trip wasn’t primarily science oriented, it was a transformative experience because it helped to solidify in my mind the direction I wanted to go. The idea of becoming a Physician-Scientist hadn’t really struck me yet, but I was able to strengthen my passion to go into biomedicine.”
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This story is also featured on the Oxford University Medium Blog.