TALLAHASSEE — Brittney Newby, a Florida A&M University alumna, recently became the first African-American woman to be admitted into the University of Florida’s MD-PhD program.
Newby, an Atlanta native, graduated from FAMU with the highest honors in spring 2009 with a bachelor’s in chemistry and was accepted into UF’s prestigious program Jan. 18.
“It is very humbling,” Newby said. “I can’t help but to think of all of the people that have paved the way. Without them, I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to partake in this prestigious program. I have dreamed of being a doctor and changing the dynamics of healthcare for pretty much all of my life. I think being the first African-American female accepted is just a bonus. It gives me a chance to provide a good example for those who come behind me.”
The University of Florida’s MD-PhD program was created in 1967. Each year, the program admits only eight students because of costs: a student’s full tuition is paid, along with a monthly stipend of $1,900.
FAMU officials have been pushing UF to get more minority students into the program. Dr. Lekan Latinwo and Dr. James Adams, who co-chair FAMU’s Department of Biology, and Letina Banks, pre-health advisor, discussed the subject with the director of the program, Dr. Stephen Hsu, and his assistant, Skip Harris.
“When I read Brittney’s personal statement, I told her she would be our first student to enter into the MD-PhD program at the University of Florida due to her extensive research experience,” Banks said. “We started working together to make sure this happened.”
Newby is a research assistant at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, investigating the role of genetics on the progression of skeletal disorders and probing the biological aspects of these disorders through mouse models.
“My day-to-day [work] typically involves running experiments, genotyping samples and looking after the mouse colony,” Newby said. “While working at the Children’s Hospital-Boston, I have been able to gain extensive insight on what the life of a physician-scientist entails.”
Newby, who played on the Lady Rattler softball team, said FAMU was instrumental in her development as a student and a person.
After graduation, she hopes to work as a pediatric physician.
“Depending on my specialization and field of research, my research will be impacted by my clinical experiences with patients,” she said. “Hopefully, my research will translate into new approaches for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases,” she said.
“Right now, I am most interested in the pathology of disease and the biological mechanisms involved in the progression of disease.”
This story was provided by the media relations department of Florida A&M University.