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I’ve had a tremendous amount of help and support in my journey to become a physician scientist. My parents, family, friends, and colleagues have seemingly never faltered in their encouragement. My education – both from lecturers and from research mentors – has been forthcoming and genuine. I firmly believe that my relationships with these individuals are my success, more so than any award or publication. Yet, I remain indebted to such recognition; it is the currency with which I can continue to pursue my career goals. My gratitude, however, compounds when such recognition also helps to improve these relationships and helps open doors to new scientific and clinical opportunities.

If is for this reason that I am deeply humbled and honoured to have been recognized by the IU Simon Cancer Center as a 2015-16 recipient of the Merilyn Hester Scholarship. This award was endowed in 2004 as a memorial to Merilyn Hester to recognize a MD-in-training with an interest in pediatric heme/onc research. Specifically, it is intended to support a young physician scientist as they embark on a research career in this discipline. The award serves 3 specific purposes: it provides funds to be used for research, funds to cover the trainee’s stipend, and – most appealing to me – funds for the trainee to attend a research conference.

I’ve presented my work at several national conferences this past year: in Chicago, in Bethesda, and in San Francisco. However, the Merilyn Hester Scholarship will enable me to broaden my audience and colleagues. Using the travel funds, this October I will travel to Aarhus, Denmark to attend 7th International Symposium on JMML, MDS, and Bone Marrow Failure. This conference is organized by the by European Working Group of Myelodysplastic Syndromes in Childhood and meets every 3 years. It attracts some of most renowned and respected members of this field – names that I come across weekly during my literature review. I cannot wait to meet them.

It is precisely such opportunities – the ability to meet directly with people who would otherwise be on the other side of the world – that makes me so grateful for the IUSCC and their generous award. Their support will allow me to begin collaborations in person with researchers overseas – an opportunity that other trainees typically do not have until well into their post-graduate work. I only hope that my research progress will justify the IUSCC decision.

I also wish to congratulate the other Hester Scholarship recipient: Derek Logsdon. Again, another colleague that I have the opportunity to meet on account of the award. You may read more about the award and the recipients on the IUSCC website.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Stefan Tarnawsky

MS4 MD/PhD Student. Going into Internal Medicine; interested in Heme/Onc. Bread baker, bonsai artist, aspiring astronomer.