by Sharon Sanders
Ko Maung ’07 is one of only 19 medical students to receive the 2013 Hematology Opportunities for the Next Generation of Research Scientists Award from the American Society of Hematology.
The award will enable Maung to continue research with his faculty mentor, Koyamangalath Krishnan, chief of the hematology and oncology division, James H. Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University. They are investigating a new treatment for leukemia that marries tocotrienol, a form of vitamin E, with statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Maung’s honor takes on added luster in light of his persistence in overcoming obstacles to reach his goal. In 2000, he was enrolled in medical school in his native Myanmar. But before classes began, the school was shuttered, a casualty of the repressive military regime. He learned about Lafayette from college guidebooks at the American Embassy in Myanmar and was accepted the following year.
“The international students program helped me adapt,” he recalls. “I was barely able to speak English when I arrived. Janine Block was a phenomenal person for international students. I could not imagine a better place than Lafayette for my undergraduate study.” Maung graduated with a double major in mathematics and economics & business and went on to earn a master’s in professional sciences-biotechnology at Middle Tennessee State University.
Maung says he benefitted greatly from working as an EXCEL Scholars with Gladstone Hutchinson, James DeVault, and Susan Averett in the economic department, and Chester Salwach from the mathematics department.
With the expectation to graduate in May, he plans a career in academic medicine doing research, teaching, and clinical work.