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Future Physician-Scientist Aims to Contribute to History of Advancements

Kumar Thurimella says science helps humans understand the natural world, transcend nationalities and boundaries

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Written by Guest Contributor on February 22, 2021
What You Need To Know

First in a series: As we move forward from one of the most challenging years in memory, the role science plays in our lives and the health of our planet is more important than ever. From studying the tiniest organisms on Earth to celestial bodies in space, scientists continue to push the boundaries of discovery. Given the abundance of brilliant minds on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, we are launching a new series for the CU Anschutz newsroom. In it, our own scientists will contribute their thoughts on “Why Science Matters.” If you would like to contribute to the series, please reach out to Chris Casey, director of digital storytelling, at christopher.casey@cuanschutz.edu.

I have always been awestruck by the technological advances we have made as a society. Science has always been the backbone of our modern society and underpinned these discoveries. As Americans, we are able to enjoy a life with many luxuries built off science. And as humans, we are able to transcend nationalities and boundaries, as science can be shared among all of us worldwide.

In the last 40 years, we have seen incredible, rapid growth with modern computing. The average smartphone is 100,000-times more powerful than the supercomputer that directed the Apollo landings. Approximately half of the world’s population owns a smartphone, using its ability to connect to the rest of the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kumar Thurimella is a first-year Gates Cambridge PhD scholar at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology and the Statistical Laboratory in the Department of Mathematics. He has finished his pre-clinical years for his MD degree at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He previously worked as a software engineer at Uber in San Francisco for several years. He is currently developing mathematical models and software to understand host-microbe-immune interactions of the human gut via bioelectronic gut models.

This ubiquitous device reveals the importance of science. Modern technology has been shaped by being able to build off foundational concepts in physics, material science, computer science, mathematics and other fields. Without the scientific discoveries to underlie the fundamental understanding, we would not be able to enjoy many pieces of consumer technology.

Science fosters a medical revolution

The scientific method has allowed us to answer questions about the world around us. Using science, we have been able to learn about nature and harness resources to improve our overall quality of life. By being able to go past our immediate senses of what we can see and touch, we have been able to discover an entire world that coexists with us while remaining inconspicuous.

A microorganism can be totally invisible to the naked eye yet have so much influence on us as humans. Pathogens have decimated past civilizations and continue to be an ever-present threat, including the current global pandemic. With the aid of science, we were able to create therapies to treat disease and fight pathogens – an astounding revolution. We recently learned how these microbes can also have very beneficial effects on our health and well-being. The rigor brought forth by science made these discoveries possible.

Science joins one world with one goal

Science is agnostic to the artificial boundaries that can separate us as humans. People from all over the world can collaborate and work toward the same questions that affect all of us. Different colleagues from various parts of the globe can work together and bring their own diverse set of skills and experiences to the table. With such a diverse scientific team, problems can be seen through unique lenses with the shared goal of understanding the world around us.

As a future physician-scientist, I am excited to discover and apply new scientific discoveries toward human health and contribute to a history of advancements. I am grateful for the scientists before me who devoted their lives to understanding the world. Their pioneering work has enabled me to live in a world where: vaccinations and medications prevent me from getting previously lethal infections, travel and transport across the globe is at my fingertips through airplanes or laptops/smartphones, and I can enjoy essential necessities like shelter, heating and food to thrive.

I plan to devote myself to a career where science is the centerpiece and look forward to contributing to our collective knowledge as humans.

Guest contributor: Kumar Thurimella, a first-year Gates Cambridge PhD scholar

Topics: Research, Education