Student researcher accepted into elite biotech program

Ege K. Duman will take part in Tsinghua University’s 2020 Amgen Scholars program

By Craig McIntosh

Staff writer

Duke Kunshan student Ege K. Duman has secured a coveted place in the Amgen Scholars program, which provides undergraduates around the globe the opportunity to explore cutting-edge science and biotechnology research.

Hosted by 24 institutions across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, the two-month summer program sees students work full-time with leading research scientists and take part in seminars, networking events and a symposium.

Duman, a molecular bioscience major, is among about 15 undergraduates accepted into the 2020 program hosted by Tsinghua University, one of China’s elite institutions of higher education. In light of the global Covid-19 situation, Tsinghua has postponed the program until summer 2021.

‘I am delighted. I’ve wanted to participate in the Amgen Scholars program for a couple of years,’ said Duman, a member of the Class of 2022 from Turkey. ‘Some of the labs at Tsinghua produce work that considerably overlaps with my research interests. It’s a remarkable opportunity to broaden one’s horizons in natural sciences and for networking.

‘I’m extremely thankful to all my professors and fellow undergraduate researchers who have supported and helped me with many things, from research to personal issues. They have encouraged me and cheered me every step of the way.’

After spending two months at Tsinghua’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Beijing, Duman will join fellow participants from across Asia in presenting his research at a symposium hosted by the National University of Singapore. He said he hopes to focus on stem cell research, drug discovery for cancers and infectious diseases, or epigenetics.

The program, funded by the Amgen Foundation with technical assistance from Harvard University, provides scholars financial support to cover accommodation and travel.

Over his two years at Duke Kunshan, Duman’s research activities have spanned a range of disciplines, with topics including diabetes, artificial intelligence and organ donation.

He is part of epidemiologist Benjamin Anderson’s Global Infectious Diseases Lab and has served as a research assistant to Lijing L. Yan, head of non-communicable disease research at the Global Health Research Center. He also works with fellow undergraduates in the DKU Youth Leaders in Global Health Club, whose activities have included creating a clinical shadowing program in partnership with a local hospital and providing language training for Chinese physicians.

In February, the American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience published a commentary Duman co-authored with philosophy professor Daniel Lim on distinctions between conventional action and actions mediated by brain-computer interfaces, which are systems that connect the human brain to external technology. In addition, he has been working with Kyle Fruh, assistant professor of philosophy, on an independent research project looking at the ethics surrounding kidney transplantation.

‘Ege began working with me his first year at DKU. From the very beginning of our collaboration, he has demonstrated a keen mind for research and a passion for learning new skills,’ said Anderson, who also serves as Duman’s academic adviser. ‘He exemplifies the pioneering spirit by which DKU students have come to be known. I’m very proud of him.’

Yan added that Duman has demonstrated strong abilities in learning, identifying issues worthy of exploration, and the perseverance to overcome difficulties along the way. ‘I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him,’ she said, ‘or rather what he will bring to the future.’

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