SMP student pursues research focused MD/PhD

Sandy Wright (middle) in the lab working on baseline testing with School of Health and Exercise Sciences students Tanis Burnett and Jessie Carmichael (left to right).

Sandy Wright is the first student from the Southern Medical Program to be enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine’s MD/PhD program.

The program which is jointly administered by the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Graduate Studies, selects highly qualified students to combine their medical studies with intensive scientific training.

“Participating in the development and dissemination of new knowledge is an incredibly stimulating exercise in critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, developing technical skills, and effective communication,” said Wright.

Wright’s research will focus on determining if deficits in neurocognitive and sensorimotor function induced by sport-related head impacts are related to alterations in cerebrovascular function for youth contact sport athletes.

“I am interested in characterizing the similarities and differences between what happens in these domains following repetitive sub-concussive impacts, for example football lineman, and one-time injury events in which a concussion occurs,” said Wright. “My attraction to this sport-related research undoubtedly stems from my past endeavours as an elite athlete and subsequent work experiences in providing medical care to athlete populations.”

MD/PhD students have their curriculum customized to meet their field of medical expertise and expanded of a seven-year timeframe. Under the supervision of Dr. Paul van Donkelaar, Acting Director for the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, Wright will work closely with Dr. Phil Ainslie, Assistant Professor at UBC Okanagan and Dr. Brad Monteleone, a practicing Sport Medicine MD/PhD in Kelowna.