Recent Penn State grad begins NIH/Oxford medical research studies

September 25, 2008

University Park, Pa. — In his four years as a Penn State student, John McManigle kept himself very busy but still managed to get accepted into The National Institutes of Health Oxford/Cambridge Scholars Program, which he begins this fall.

As a 2008 Penn State Schreyer Honors College graduate, those are just a few things McManigle did in addition to achieving academic success with his physics major and minors in biology and mathematics. He also worked 1,000 hours volunteering as an Emergency Medical Technician for the University Ambulance Service, was active with Nittany Divers, obtained an advanced scuba certification and earned his pilot's license.

"I chose to come to Penn State because the administrators and students I met there while visiting made me really comfortable," McManigle said. "There were opportunities with Schreyer, the physics program that really let me tailor what I needed for this scholars program."

The NIH scholars program is an accelerated, individualized doctoral training curriculum for outstanding science students committed to biomedical research, according to Bridget Lampert, managing director for the program. Students engage in collaborative research in any area of biomedical investigation with two mentors —one from NIH in Bethesda, Md., the other at either Oxford or Cambridge university. McManigle was accepted into a combined M.D./Ph.D. program where he will integrate the training and research he will do at NIH and Oxford, with an M.D. program at Duke University.

"In John's case, he will earn a combined degree, spending his first two years in medical school, then stepping out to pursue his doctoral degree, which will take about 4.5 years for completion," said Lampert. "Then he'll go back and finish his medical studies. This is a model program for physician/scientist training. These are students that are interested in a career pursuing research, then taking the outcomes of their research to the bedside."

McManigle, a Rockville, Md., native, was accepted into the highly selective program in the spring of his senior year at Penn State. Lampert said they receive around 200 graduates each year and choose 12 to 14 students for admission. Most of those applicants have just finished their undergraduate degree and have a 3.9 GPA and high GRE scores. But aside from how the applicants look on paper, the biggest qualifier for entrance is the interview process. Prospective scholars must prove to the admissions committee that they really have a vision and passion for research.

"John wasn't just smart in one area but multiple areas," said Christian Brady, dean of the Schreyers Honors College. "He's academically diverse, well-spoken, confident without being arrogant, and keenly aware that he's been given great opportunities that he doesn't take for granted."

Even before high school, McManigle said he wanted to be a doctor — to help people while solving medical problems.

"Luckily, in high school I found out I was good in math, engineering, robotics and science," he said. "The summer between my freshman and sophomore year [at Penn State] I went to NIH for a summer fellows program to see if bioscience was right for me. I was able to work with M.D./Ph.D.s and was inspired to go in the same direction."

Prepared with the knowledge that the next six to seven years of his life will be spent on pursuing these degrees, McManigle knows his piloting and diving hobbies will take a backseat to his studies. He spent his summer enjoying both.

Last Updated July 02, 2015