From beneath whispering maples to the Windy City…

stephenThis past year was a whirlwind for ‘13 alum Stephen Henrich. After garnering acceptances from many of the nation’s top medical schools (Harvard, Yale, and Stanford were not among the least of these) and graduating from Simpson in April with triple majors in Biochemistry, Math, and Applied Philosophy, Henrich decided to pursue an MD/PhD dual degree track at Northwestern University in Chicago. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, this 7-8 year program is designed to train students who, like Stephen, are passionate about both medicine and scientific research to become practicing physician/scientists. Henrich’s primary research interest is in the field of nanotechnology, a passion which first developed at Simpson when conducting research under former Chair of the Dept. of Chemistry, Dr. Ron Warnet. Henrich chose to attend Northwestern, in part, because it has long been considered one of the world’s hubs for research in nanotechnology.

To further support his graduate research, Henrich was awarded a Ryan Fellowship, Northwestern University’s top award for graduate students in nanotechnology. The Ryan Fellowship “supports graduate students dedicated to the exploration of fundamental nanoscale science and to advancing this knowledge into practical applications of benefit to society.” For Henrich, this means using nanoscale science to design novel medical technologies which could one day improve the lives of his patients.

While Henrich is still uncertain in precisely which medical field he would like to conduct his research, he is currently exploring laboratories. Last summer he worked in the lab of Dr. Chad Mirkin, who was predicted to be a contender for the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry ( for his work in DNA nanotechnology, and for inventing a technique called Dip-Pen Nanolithography. This summer Henrich plans to rotate in two labs, both of which are applying innovations in nanotechnology to achieve different medical purposes. The first aims to treat patients with severe spinal cord injuries using customized nanoscale scaffolds, while the second is attempting to make devices called biosensors which could detect cancer at its earliest stages. Henrich began medical school at Northwestern this past fall, and will officially start the PhD phase of his training in 2015.