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Rx for successful careers in medicine

Brooklyn College is nurturing some of the brightest minds in the borough.

Two of the college’s newly minted graduates received Salk Scholarships to support their medical school costs.

“It was an honor to win the award because I know it’s a very prestigious award and makes me feel privileged because of the fact that it’s named after Jonas Salk, the discoverer of the polio vaccine,” said Midwood resident Ghulam Dastgir, who will attend SUNY Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine in East Flatbush.

“I was surprised when I went to the award ceremony. I realized that there were 15 applicants and they had only chosen eight. It’s very exciting,” said Brooklyn-born Alex Pyronneau, who is now living in Staten Island and bound for Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.

“Their success speaks volumes of the wonderful job the Brooklyn College faculty does mentoring our undergraduates, as well as our masters and doctoral students and future science teachers,” said Louise Hainline, the college’s dean of Research and Graduate Studies. “Our mission is to prepare a scientifically and technologically literate work force to continue to be competitive on a global scale. Ghulam and Alex are prime examples of this commitment.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, college seniors must conduct medical research and already be accepted to a medical school. They must also be nominated by their pre-med advisors.

“I feel that it really couldn’t have been possible without the support of the pre-med advisors because they’re the ones who encourage you to get all the materials in on time,” Dastgir said. “They’re very helpful in providing support.”

In their research work, both men examined diseases to find potential treatments.

For Pyronneau, it was Alzheimer’s disease to “try to translate it into potential therapy or some kind of potential drug in the future,” he explained.

Dastgir, a graduate of Midwood High School, focused on tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

“In the United States they aren’t in the forefront because you have things like heart disease and cancer but in other countries, like third world countries, these diseases pose a big problem,” Dastgir explained.

Both aspiring doctors credit their families with helping them achieve academic success.

“My mom is a nurse and my father is a teacher but before he was a teacher he was a concert guitarist. Both of them were biased toward their careers and wanted me to do what they were doing,” said Pyronneau, who is also a talented pianist.

Now that Pyronneau has chosen his own path, he said his parents “feel that it’s really, really nice.”

“I want to thank my family for being supportive of me,” Dastgir said. “My parents – they’ve been very supportive of me and they pretty much led me to decide to attend Brooklyn College. Without their support I couldn’t have done this.”

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