A student from the University of Victoria has been chosen for one of 15 spots in a medical research program in Toronto. Dushanthi Dissanayake, a third-year microbiology student, will take part in the 2019 Amgen Scholars Canada Program. This is the first time that the program is being offered in Canada and 120 people from across the country applied. Dissanayake and 14 others were selected to participate.
She applied to the program after reading about the opportunities it offers for students interested in biomedical research.
The application process was intense, she says, and competition was fierce as the program was open to students across Canada.
Dissanayake was in the car with her parents when she received the email saying she’d been accepted into the program.
“Emotions were very high, as I could not believe I was selected to be part of the inaugural batch of the Canadian Amgen Scholars Program,” she says. “My family was very proud and excited that I would be able to partake in such a prestigious program.”
The scholars spend a fully funded, 10-week research residency at the University of Toronto. This experience includes mentorship from renowned researchers and allows the students to engage in cutting-edge research in the field of medical biotechnology. Dissanayake was excited to return to Toronto as she grew up there and moved to Victoria with her family after high school.
“From a research perspective, it was very exciting that the program was situated in downtown Toronto, as Toronto is internationally recognized as a hub for research and innovation,” she says.
The Amgen Scholars Programs seeks to provide outstanding science students with the opportunity to increase their knowledge, network and get inspired.
Aside from being a student, Dissanayake is also an emergency room volunteer and a tutor. Community involvement is important to her.
The prestigious global research program will help Dissanayake work towards her career goals. She hopes to combine her interests for health care and research by becoming a physician-scientist.
“As a physician-scientist, I would be able to identify important clinically relevant questions and address them in the laboratory,” she says.
She will also be attending the National Amgen Scholars Program Symposium at UCLA in July. There, the scholars from across North American will be able to meet and hear from leading scientists.
“Overall, I believe this program will provide me with an incredible opportunity to further my career aspirations whilst conducting novel biomedical research,” says Dissanayake.