February 1, 2011
– Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumna Brittney Newby recently became the first African-American female to be admitted into the University of Florida (UF) MD-PhD program.
Newby, an Atlanta, Ga. native, graduated summa cum laude in the spring of 2009 from FAMU with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She was officially accepted into UF’s prestigious program Jan. 18.
“It is very humbling,” said Newby. “I can’t help but to think of all of the people that have paved the way. Without them, I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to partake in this prestigious program. I have dreamed of being a doctor and changing the dynamics of healthcare for pretty much all of my life. I think being the first African-American female accepted is just a bonus. It gives me a chance to provide a good example for those who come behind me.”
The University of Florida’s MD-PhD program was created in 1967. Each year, the program only admits eight students due to the fact that the student’s full tuition is paid along with paying the students a monthly stipend of $1,900 per month. Dr. Lekan Latinwo, chair of FAMU’s Department of Biology, Dr. James Adams, co-chair, and Letina Banks, pre-health advisor, met with the director of the University of Florida’s MD-PhD program Dr. Stephen Hsu and his assistant, Skip Harris, in hopes of increasing UF’s admission of more minority students into their program.
“When I read Brittney’s personal statement, I told her she would be our first student to enter into the MD-PhD program at the University of Florida due to her extensive research experience,” Banks said. “We started working together to make sure this happened.”
Newby currently works at the Children’s Hospital in Boston as a research assistant. In her lab, she investigates the role of genetics on the progression of skeletal disorders, while also investigating the biological aspects of these disorders through mouse models.
“My day-to-day typically involves running experiments, genotyping samples and looking after the mouse colony,” she said. “While working at the Children’s Hospital-Boston, I have been able to gain extensive insight on what entails the life of a physician scientist.”
Newby, who was a player on the Lady Rattler Softball Team, said the university was instrumental in her development as a student and a person.
“At FAMU, I wasn’t just a student, I was a part of a family,” said Newby. “My teachers were amazing — many of which I can still call if I need any advice. While a student at FAMU, sometimes I would think, ‘Why am I learning this or why is the coursework so difficult?’ But as I look back on my time at FAMU, I am very happy to have had such rigorous coursework because it has truly prepared me for medical school.”
After graduation, Newby hopes to work as a pediatric physician.
“Depending on my specialization and field of research, my research will be impacted by my clinical experiences with patients,” she said. “Hopefully, my research will translate into new approaches for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases. Right now, I am most interested in the pathology of disease and the biological mechanisms involved in the progression of disease.”
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