January 30, 2009
CONTACT: Karen Kreeger
Penn Med Student Awarded Mitchell Scholarship to Study in Ireland
PHILADELPHIA - After successfully completing his first year of medical school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Jonathan Brestoff, an MD-PhD student, will spend the 2009-2010 academic year studying public health in Ireland as a recipient of the George J. Mitchell Scholarship.
The scholarship is named after the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who led peace negotiations in Northern Ireland in the late 1990s and honors American students who excel in academics, leadership, and community service.
“Being named as a Mitchell Scholar is an honor and a humbling one at that,” Brestoff says. “Senator Mitchell made incredibly important societal contributions, and I find it motivating to try to live up to such a high standard.”
Brestoff’s interest in public health began in high school when his passion for the game of ice hockey made him curious about the science of nutrition and human performance and later the study of obesity and type-2 diabetes.
To Brestoff, these disorders weren’t just the words of textbooks, but diseases he’d come to see and experience first-hand. From an early age Brestoff says he struggled with his weight and has a family history of obesity and type-2 diabetes.
At Skidmore College Brestoff majored in Chemistry and Exercise Science, where he studied obesity, type-2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases. In 2008, Brestoff and his mentor Thomas H. Reynolds, IV, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Skidmore, discovered that the molecule manganese [III] tetrakis (4-benzoic acid) porphyrin (MnTBAP), induces weight-loss and fat mass reduction in lean and obese mice. This year they submitted an application to the U.S. Patent Office for the use of MnTBAP as an anti-obesity compound.
Brestoff’s commitment to nutrition and metabolic disease prevention as an undergraduate was not reserved for the lab alone. In 2005-2006, he founded and served as president of the Skidmore Nutrition Action Council (SNAC), a student group that promoted healthy eating habits and boosted awareness about the importance of nutrition at Skidmore and the local community of Saratoga Springs, New York.
Brestoff is one of twelve Mitchell Scholarship recipients chosen by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance from a pool of more than 300 applicants to receive funding for one year of graduate study in Ireland.
Brestoff will spend the year earning his master’s in public health at the University College Cork, where he plans to focus on healthcare policies that address metabolic disease prevention and management on a population level.
“I hope that my experience in Ireland will help me to have a more thorough understanding of healthcare systems and policies, as these elements are important components to maintaining the public's health,” he says.
PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.