Statement of Purpose
Applicant: XXX Program Applied: Doctor of Science in Cancer Epidemiology, Harvard University

If judged by the criterion that “EXCELLENCE SHOULD BE A HABIT,” I find myself only in the middle of my quest for excellence. Having completed both my undergraduate program and graduate program in two leading institutions of medical science of China, I have developed a strong foundation in clinical medicine and internal medicine. During my research-intensive Master’s program, I have come to focus on cancer cells and have achieved important research findings. In order to search for continued academic and professional excellence, I deem it necessary to pursue a Doctor of Science program in cancer epidemiology and the Department of Epidemiology of Harvard University will be the perfect academic environment in which to do so.

In applying for your program, I must direct your attention to my academic qualifications, my research achievements and my motivation toward cancer epidemiology. During my undergraduate program at The Department of Clinical Medicine, Medical School, XXX University (Shanghai), I attained a GPA of 87/100 and a top-2 ranking among 250 students. My greatest honor came when in August 20XX, as one of the three winners in our College (consisting of 1500 students) of Japan’s Tetsu Scholarship, I went on an exchange program at the School of Medicine, St. Marianna University, Japan.

Having laid a solid foundation as an undergraduate, I kept excelling in my Master’s program at XXX College of Clinical Medicine, Shanghai XXX Medical University. Apart from coursework in such core courses as biostatistics, cell biology, biochemical technique and isotopic technique, my greatest achievements lied in the improvement of experiment skills and research potential. I worked on my Master’s research projects at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. There, my ability to perform independent research was significantly enhanced—totally self-reliant, I read technical literature, chose my orientation, designed experiments, determined the reagents to be used, carried out specific operations, analyzed data and presented summary reports. In particular, I mastered key techniques in cell biology such as cell culture, flow cytometry, PCR, Western blotting, and cDNA microarray analysis. Through my Master’s program, I have accumulated especially strong backgrounds in mathematics, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and statistics.

By far, my greatest distinguishing achievement has been the research I have accomplished. In a research program sponsored by the Canadian Terry Fox Cancer Foundation, I researched on the potential mechanism(s) whereby the neutral lipid isolated from the endosperm of Job's tears (NLEJ), known to possess an anticancer activity with relatively low toxicity, produces anti-proliferative effects in the PaTu-8988 and SW1990 human pancreatic cancer cells. In the research, I found that NLEJ inhibits pancreatic cancer cell growth through induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest as well as regulation of gene expression in vitro. Therefore, NLEJ might be a chemotherapeutic agent against pancreatic cancer. Based on those research findings, I have completed a research paper entitled Neutral Lipid Isolated from Endosperm of Job's Tears Inhibits the Growth of Pancreatic Cancer Cells via Apoptosis, G2/M Arrest, and Regulation of Gene Expression, which has been accepted by Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (indexed by SCI) for publication in early 20XX.

My research achievements so far also include the publication of three other papers as first author in core scholarly journals— Effects of KLT on Cell Cycle and Related Gene Expression in Patu-8988 Cells ( Chinese Journal of Pancreatology, Issue 2, 20XX), Effect of Kanglaite on Apoptosis of Human Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Cells and its Possible Mechanism (Shanghai Medical Journal, Issue 6. 20XX), Effects of an Extract of Coix Seed on Apoptosis and Ultrastructure of Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells (Chinese Journal of Gastroenterology, early 20XX). In addition, I have written two reviews concerning the domestic research on “The Function and Mechanism of All-Trans Vit-Methanoic Acid in the Genetic Expression of the Gastroenterological Cancer” and on “P53 and Pancreatic Cancer and Progress in its Genetic Therapy”. This October I have contributed two chapters “Molecular Mechanisms for Development and Progress of Pancreatic Cancer” and “Pancreatic Cancer and Apoptosis” to the book Pancreatic Cancer—From Basic Research to Clinical Application.

With my research qualifications regarding pancreatic cancer, I have actively participated in international conferences and domestic conferences, at which three papers have been collected into international proceedings and two into domestic proceedings. In September this year, I participated in The 12th United European Gastroenterology Week in Prague, an annual European conference on the basic research and clinical diagnosis in gastroenterology, at which I did an oral presentation and won an award.

Compared with average applicants whose backgrounds are related to public health, I have obvious advantages. I have professional experience as a resident physician at XXX Hospital, Fudan University, since this July. As a matter of fact, my clinical experience spans across my undergraduate and graduate careers. Such a clinical background gives me a more comprehensive knowledge, both theoretical and perceptual, of cancer as a disease, as I have been systematically instructed about the etiology of various cancers, the mechanism of their pathogenesis at both molecular and cytobiological levels, susceptible groups, their diagnosis, treatment and prevention. In addition, I have developed unique and insightful understanding of the need to integrate basic research with clinical application and to have a close grasp of the future research orientations. I believe my comprehensive knowledge will prove a major asset for my future high-quality research.

Having developed all the requisite backgrounds, I am bent on a Doctor of Science (SD) program in cancer epidemiology at Harvard University. To undertake your program will obviously require me to somehow shift from clinical experiences to epidemiological research and I have important reasons to do so. Clinical medicine is primarily targeted at individual patients while cancer epidemiology will allow me not only to study the reasons for the cancer’ pathogenesis, development and distribution among certain groups of people but also learn how to formulate policies and measures to prevent, control and eliminate cancer-related diseases. I believe that cancer epidemiology is the most probable approach to unravel cancer etiology. The applied nature of epidemiology makes it highly valuable in providing guidance and directions for clinical practice and basic research. Furthermore, cancer epidemiology takes a group perspective in combating cancer, either a family group or the entire mankind can benefit macroscopically from its research findings. Finally, promotion of human health through disease prevention is always more positive and economically meaningful than post-contraction therapy.

Harvard’s Department of Epidemiology has a long tradition of teaching and research in the epidemiology of cancer, especially with well-grounded multidisciplinary research and cutting-edge methodology. Under your program, I will study the research methods of clinical epidemiology and molecular epidemiology, and probe into the laws of distribution and the dangerous factors of the malignant tumors, as well as the way to determine the highly susceptible groups and to develop effective preventive measures and strategies. Specifically, I will focus on the following aspects of molecular cancer epidemiology — the relationship between certain genes and cancer, the experimental research on using plant extracts to prevent cancer, searching for early-stage indicators on the molecular level to diagnose and treat cancer.

In my tentative study plan, I would spend the first two years studying genetic epidemiology, cancer genetics, the application of biomarkers in epidemiologic research. By reading large amount of literature, I will select a potential project, on which I will carry out extensive experiments in the third year. The results from the pre-experiments will help me adjust my orientation. Once the topic is decided, I will try to perfect my experiments and, with the help of literature, preliminary research results, and data analysis, I will complete my dissertation in which important breakthroughs can hopefully be achieved. I believe that my fruitful study and research at your well-respected institution will make me the first-rate cancer researcher in my home country who can, in turn, make excellence my lifelong habit.



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