Volunteer spotlight: Alumnus provides guidance to Harpur pre-med students
By Steve Seepersaud
Ed Lee '80 knows how tough it is to enter the field of medicine without any guidance. It's why the Long Island-based dermatologist mentors pre-med students in Harpur College. Each summer, Lee mentors one student and offers him or her a glimpse into his daily workload. Students take notes on each of Lee's encounters with patients and write weekly homework assignments about the different skin conditions that are treated. While he specializes in dermatology, Lee will take a student interested in any form of medicine. Some of the lessons are germane to his specialty, while others are not.
"I encourage the students to ask questions of me," Lee says. "I also encourage the students to think of the person, not just the disease. In this way, I hope to impart compassion and knowledge to the students."
Although he didn't have a mentor in the early 1990s when going through the process of getting into and ultimately through Harvard Medical School, he wasn't totally without encouragement. He says Professor Fred Kull, his biochemistry advisor, was a strong influence during his time at Binghamton.
"He was fair in his way with students like me, but demanding," Lee says. "He gave me harsh words when I needed them and encouragement when that was appropriate. He was able to expand my thoughts about my career beyond medical school. He was the one to suggest that I pursue grad school for pharmacology. His thought that I had the brain for it."
Lee took the advice, earning his PhD from Rutgers in 1987. He had post-doctoral fellowships at the National Institutes of Health and Massachusetts Institute of Technology before becoming a clinical scholar at Rockefeller University. He eventually went to med school and entered private practice in dermatology. Lee says he was lured to pharmacology because of the chance to help millions with new drugs for diseases like cancer and heart disease or infectious disease. In other words, what was exciting was that there were seemingly no limits. He wants young people to explore the many options available to them and find their own path.
"I just hope the students do their best, learn as much as they can and become as compassionate as they can," Lee says. "Success is for others to judge."
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