On a recent fall afternoon, Sanford-Burnham looked more like a United Nations summit than a medical research institute. One hundred students attending the 2012 International Fulbright Science & Technology Conference in Orlando gathered at Sanford-Burnham to discuss research trends and professional pathways available to those pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. All of the students were recipients of Fulbright’s International Science & Technology Awards and are pursuing their doctoral studies in the United States. They came from far-away places like Algeria, Estonia, Iraq, and Nepal, and now attend renowned universities such as the University of California, Berkeley, MIT, Stanford University, and Harvard University. The group’s visit to Medical City was organized by the Lake Nona Institute.
They toured Orlando’s burgeoning life science campus known as Medical City at Lake Nona and attended a panel discussion on science and technology innovation. Drs. Dan Kelly and Sheila Collins of Sanford-Burnham, Dr. M.J. Soileau, vice president of research and commercialization at the University of Central Florida, and Dr. Jason Eichenholz, divisional technology director at Ocean Optics, led the conversation. The panelists spoke about their professional development, how interdisciplinary collaboration drives innovation, and the role of technology in health care—today and in the future.
An observer noted that the visiting students were immediately at ease at Sanford-Burnham, which employs scientists from more than two dozen countries. Tours of the Institute were guided by resident scientists and staff from India, Greece, Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, and the U.S. However, cultural borders were quickly crossed with questions about science, access to the Institute’s outstanding technology platforms, and research funding in the U.S.
The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and the people of other countries. Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world. Forty-four Fulbright alumni have received Nobel Prizes, most recently Sir John B. Gurdon, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012 for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells.
At Sanford-Burnham, we employ the best and most respected people in their fields and recruit that expertise worldwide. And who knows, maybe we’ll see one of the Fulbright students again in the future, working in our laboratories.