Tech Student Wins Churchill Scholarship

Monique Gupta has done it again. Winner of the prestigious Goldwater scholarship last spring, Gupta has captured the Churchill scholarship for one year of study at the University of Cambridge. Gupta plans to use her scholarship to get a Master of Philosophy in genetics before going to medical school.

Studying industrial systems and engineering at Georgia Tech, she said, has given her a solid foundation on which to base her career as a physician.

"In today's age of medicine, no physician can go forward without knowing more about the research that's being conducted," Gupta said. "By the time I start practicing, all these novel concepts we see today are going to be in use. I need to have a background in them."

Gene therapy is one of the concepts, Gupta said, will be more common by the time she starts practicing medicine. While at Tech, she participated in this type of research with Joseph LeDoux, professor in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Gene therapy is a novel approach to treating diseases, and most of it is still in the experimental phase, said Gupta. But the idea is that scientists would first identify a gene in a patient that is causing a certain disease. "A new gene would be created in a lab, and doctors would use it to replace the gene that is causing the problem. One way to deliver the new gene to the patient is by using a retrovirus to carry the gene into the affected area of the patient," explained Gupta.

"Diseases that can be helped by gene transfer include rheumatic arthritis and juvenile arthritis," she said.

Gupta is Tech's third student to win the Churchill. The scholarship is given out by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, which was founded in 1959 as an expression of admiration for former British Prime Minister William Churchill. The award pays for one year of study at the University of Cambridge, plus a living allowance. Only 75 universities are allowed to nominate students for this prestigious honor.