Suraj “Neil” Sheth
- Biology and Neuroscience
Neil is the recipient of the Volunteer Gold Service Award from President Barack Obama for his leadership in the areas of Healthcare, Education and Environmental Sustainability. He has served as the Director of Community Outreach as well as the Assistant Director of the Advocacy and Ethics Committee of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) at Loyola University Chicago. He is an active volunteer at Lurie Children’s Hospital in downtown Chicago, as well as a volunteer for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Neil speaks French, as well as fluent Tamil, Gujarati and conversational Hindi (Indian languages). He is currently enjoying learning Italian and will study Mandarin Chinese in the coming months.
Neil, who recently scored in the 99th percentile on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and has an almost perfect GPA, aspires to earn an M.D.-Ph.D. degree and become a physician-scientist. He worked at the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University as a summer research intern to aid research on the neural mechanisms underlying motor control and motor learning. As a Carbon Research Fellow, he is conducting genetics research under the guidance of Dr. F. Bryan Pickett at Loyola University Chicago, and is working on a project titled “Analysis of XMN1 and SNAB1 Cis-Regulatory Regions of the RALDH2 Gene”. He will continue his genetics lab research when he returns to Chicago after the completion of his Ricci Project in Rome, Italy and Beijing, China.
Through the Ricci International Research Scholarship, Neil is conducting a year-long, bi-continental comparative study examining the socio-cultural norms and behaviors that have shaped youth tobacco use in Italy and China. He is studying the importance of utilizing social media in developing targeted, culturally-specific public health campaigns using the latest technologies. He is using the TripleRM Global Health Model, a customizable risk assessment framework that he designed, to analyze his research data. Below is a Q&A with Neil about the goals and model developed for his project.