Internships at the Mayo Clinic

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Inaugural Vann Fellows pursue study of biomedical ethics.

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By Bill Giduz

Spencer Wilson ’13 and Ashley Parker ’14 have been selected to conduct biomedical ethics research at the Mayo Clinic this summer as the college’s first-ever Vann Fellows. The program was created last summer through a generous gift from Jim Vann ’50 and his wife, Lee Stanton Vann, who also are the main benefactors of the college’s Vann Center for Ethics.

The Vann Fellowship award is $5,000 for up to 10 weeks of research under the guidance of mentors in the Mayo Clinic’s Program in Professionalism and Ethics.

Wilson, who plans to earn an M.D. degree, looks forward to gaining a more thorough understanding of ethical issues in medicine. “The ethical landscape of medicine is ever-changing,” he said, “as new technologies and treatments are developed. It is the job of bioethicists to apply moral principles and concepts to these developments so that medical professionals can be better informed about their proper and ethical use.”

Parker, who also hopes to be a doctor, has a particular interest in genetic testing and therapies, stem cell research, and in vitro fertilization. “As a future doctor, I want to be educated in bioethics to help my patients make informed decisions on their treatments,” she said. “The Vann Fellowship presents an amazing opportunity to learn how ethics research is conducted.”

In 2007 Jim and Lee Stanton Vann provided the endowment that created Davidson College’s Vann Center for Ethics, and their sponsorship of the Vann Fellows in biomedical ethics research at the Mayo Clinic is another way to promote ethics study at Davidson. Jim Vann said, “Davidson students are committed, capable folks who will make the world a better place. The fellowship program provides for cooperation between Davidson and the Mayo Clinic that will be beneficial for both institutions.”

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