Spring 2016

Career Boosters

Donors step up to meet—and exceed—scholarship challenge

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Philip Eliades, ’16

Philip Eliades, ’16, was on his surgery rotation when the organ transplant team was called into action. He was with them when they rushed to a local hospital to harvest a liver. He was in the operating room when the team paused for a moment of silence before the donor’s heart was stopped—and he remembered his own experience as a transplant patient.

In that moment, Eliades was no longer a medical student, but once again a gravely ill 18-year-old whose liver had shut down after being attacked by his immune system. “I could picture my own donor being in a similar situation years earlier,” he says. “It was an emotional experience seeing just how my donor had given me the gift of life.”

“I am both humbled and inspired by those who helped make possible the pursuit of my life ambition.”

Eliades has made every minute of that gift matter. After completing a premed track at Boston College, he entered Tufts School of Medicine thinking he’d become a surgeon. Instead, he plans on a career in dermatology. It is an unexpected twist on his boyhood dream, but a logical one nonetheless. Turns out immunosuppressant drugs used to prevent organ rejection can increase the risk of skin cancer in transplant survivors.

Intrigued by that connection, he plans to focus part of his career on the nascent field of transplant dermatology and contribute to a better understanding of treating skin cancer in transplant recipients.

Eliades is one of 17 medical students whose careers have received a boost from the Fund for Tufts Medicine Scholarship. Each of them received a partial-tuition scholarship of up to $15,000.

The scholarship was launched a year ago when Willard Dere, a member of the school’s board of advisors, and his wife, Julie, both M12P, pledged to make a $50,000 gift to the fund if 500 gifts of any amount were made before June 30, 2015. Alumni, parents and friends surpassed that challenge: 543 gifts. Those contributions, combined with the Deres’ pledge, totaled $261,277— a 30-percent increase in annual fund financial aid gifts over the previous year.

“We are deeply grateful to everyone who recognized our effort to support our extraordinary students,” says Dean Harris Berman. “Financial aid is a top priority for the School of Medicine, as it is across the university, and we are constantly striving to grow our resources for scholarships. The positive response to the challenge raises hopes that even more remarkable students will be supported through this fund in the future.”

03/09/2016 - Boston, Mass. - Davies Agyekum, M17,  Medical Student at The Tufts Medical Center on March 09, 2016.  He is a recipient of Tufts Medicine Scholarship. (Shamit Sthankiya for Tufts University)

Davies Agyekum, ’17

Another of those students is Davies Agyekum, ’17. Born in Ghana, he moved to Atlanta when he was 11. He decided in high school that he wanted to be a scientist, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in molecular medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.

Agyekum plans on becoming an anethesiologist and has an interest in studying the physiology of sedation and how it relates to our understanding of pain. He says he could not have considered medical school without the Fund for Tufts Medicine Scholarship. “I am both humbled and inspired by those who helped make possible the pursuit of my life ambition.” –Laura Ferguson

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