Car crashes. Lightning strikes. Shark attacks. Murder.
These are what keep people up at night. But the leading cause of death in the United States isn’t any of these unlikely events. It’s heart disease.
Dr. Kevin Croce P’23, ’24, a cardiologist and director of the Translational Discovery Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, spends his days working toward new technology and techniques to save more lives.
“Despite all the great technologies we have, treatments for heart disease are still somewhat imperfect,” he said. “A lot of the type of work we do is using innovative surgical techniques, like opening blocked arteries in a way that is more effective and more durable. We’re constantly evaluating new medicines and devices that allow us to treat patients who otherwise wouldn’t be able to be treated.”
Part of what makes the lab so successful is a team of research assistants drawn from top-tier institutions like Colby. When Tay Munson ’21 applied, Croce knew she’d be a great fit. “We probably had 40 applications. I saw Tay’s résumé and knew immediately that if she was from Colby, she would be successful,” said Croce. “After meeting her over Zoom, it was a no brainer, and we’re so excited to have her start this summer.”
For Munson, a pre-med biology major and chemistry minor, this role is the first step toward her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. “I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was five years old,” she said. “I started looking for jobs over Jan Plan and wasn’t really expecting to find anything quickly because of Covid. This research position was actually the first interview I had, and I was just so excited to get the job. I’m so, so grateful.”
Day-to-day work varies dramatically, which is exactly why a liberal arts background prepares students like Munson to hit the ground running. Between interfacing with institutional review boards and clinical approvals, interacting with patients for enrollment, study, and follow-up, and collaborating with other members of the research team, she’ll have her hands full.
“We need people who are well-rounded,” said Croce, who often hires recent graduates taking a gap year or two before medical school. “Coming through a rigorous academic training program like Colby gives me a sense of certainty that someone can come here and do well.”
That’s exactly what makes Munson eager to get started a few weeks after commencement. “I’m really excited that it’s such a collaborative team. There are so many different kinds of people I can reach as a research assistant, talking with doctors, nurses, and patients. I’m planning on going to medical school, and this kind of research position is a really good experience to get my foot in the door and understand what that’s like.”
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