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Physician in the Making

Posted on Monday, November 23, 2020

Gary Yu recently completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and is now a third-year medical school student in the joint degree Medical Scientist Training Program, earning his M.D. As a third-year medical student, he is beginning to see patients for the first time, currently in Internal Medicine.

His Ph.D. dissertation involved using therapeutic ultrasound pulses to destroy injected microbubbles, creating miniature explosions inside blood vessels which may destroy blood clots and restore blood flow, such as in heart attacks.

While completing his Ph.D., Gary greatly appreciated his ARCS award because it significantly enhanced his quality of life. “It meant I could take Uber to the hospital in the early morning when the buses aren’t running on time,” he said. “I could also have groceries delivered instead of having to spend time and energy shopping.”

Gary has made good use of his three years as an ARCS scholar, publishing papers, presenting at national scientific conferences, and even patenting new technologies. His first patent, inspired from work in his undergraduate years at UC Berkeley investigating the microstructure of fossilized mammoth bone, involved designing new 3D-printed bone substitutes made from biodegradable alloys.

The second, based on his dissertation work, involves a new type of bioactive microbubble for use with therapeutic ultrasound. “One of the most important goals of research for me is working toward interventions that will benefit patients directly,” Gary explains. “That’s why I originally decided to pursue an MD/PhD.”