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Incoming medical student first to receive new scholarship

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2011 - Autumn


Medical device company provides tuition aid in honor of late Yale alumnus.

When Jeffrey Low was a seventh-grader in his hometown of San Francisco, he went on a service project to a community hospital. Low was hooked. He returned to the hospital as a volunteer in the spine center and stayed on through high school. “I scrubbed into surgery for the first time when I was in eighth grade. [The surgeons I worked with] happened to be the inventors of a very successful orthopaedic device. They also ran a number of clinical trials,” Low said, adding that he helped with clinical research. “The data was not even on computers then. I was doing the results on paper and using a calculator.”

While he was still in high school, Low’s name appeared on papers published in academic journals. His research on artificial discs with the San Francisco Orthopedic Surgeons Medical Group led to an article in the journal Spine, and his tuberculosis diagnostics and vaccines research led to an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It also led him to consider his career path. “I saw how inventions could change people’s lives,” he said.

During his undergraduate years at Harvard—he graduated this year with a degree in molecular and cellular biology—Low did consulting for health care firms and the government of Tanzania, where he worked on a project to develop a low-cost device for monitoring HIV.

After his acceptance by the School of Medicine, Low was perusing his financial aid package when he noticed that half his tuition was covered by a new scholarship—one he had not applied for. “It was out of the blue,” said Low, whose parents are health care administrators in San Francisco. “It was a total surprise.”

Low is the first student to receive support from the Donald S. Baim, M.D. ’75, Scholarship Fund, endowed by Boston Scientific Corporation. The scholarship was established in February 2011 with a $1.7 million endowment in memory of Baim, an interventional cardiology pioneer, who served as Boston Scientific’s chief medical and scientific officer from 2006 until his death in 2009. The Baim scholarship will be awarded each year to an incoming Yale medical student and will cover half of his or her tuition for four years. The scholarship is awarded according to financial need as well as intellectual and clinical drive. According to a press release from Boston Scientific, Low received the scholarship based on his “demonstrated pursuits in innovation, invention, and blending business and technology with a grounded interest in clinical medicine and biomedical science.”

In addition to those qualities, a selection committee of faculty and administrators sought a student whose academic achievements surpass the standard pre-med curriculum and might include a background in engineering, technology, or physics, who has a well-rounded personality and balanced approach to life, high ethical standards, and a collaborative approach to interactions with colleagues.

Low said the scholarship has provided more than just financial aid. At a dinner in August he met with Baim’s colleagues at Boston Scientific, as well as with members of Baim’s family. Baim’s widow gave him a copy of True North, a guide to leadership success by Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic. Baim’s colleagues have sent him journal articles. “A lot of support comes with this,” Low said.

“Dr. Baim had a profound and enduring impact on an entire generation of cardiologists and the clinical practice at Boston Scientific, where he served as the ‘voice of the patient,’ ” said Tim Pratt, executive vice president, chief administrative officer, general counsel, and secretary for the medical device company. “This fund ensures that his spirit and legacy will live on in outstanding students like Jeffrey and future scholarship recipients.”

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