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Medical Science Meet Alumnus Brenndan Crumley

Master of Science in Medical Science program alumnus Brenndan Crumley.


Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Undergraduate: Vanderbilt, BA in Anthropology
Graduate: Drexel University College of Medicine, Master's in Public Health; Drexel University College of Medicine, Master's in Medical Science
Accepted MD program: Drexel University College of Medicine, 2021 MD candidate


Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what brought you to Drexel?

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and I went to Vanderbilt in Nashville for my undergrad where I received a bachelor's degree in anthropology. I initially came to Drexel to get my master's degree in public health. I was excited to study in a diverse city like Philadelphia at a career-oriented school like Drexel. However, I've always wanted to be a doctor. I applied to medical school for the first time during my junior year of undergrad and didn't get in, so I decided to get my master's degree in public health and then enrolled in a post-bacc program.

Why did you choose the Medical Science program?

I knew I wanted to stay at Drexel, so it was simply a matter of finding the right pre-med program. I had already taken the MCAT and I didn't need to take any pre-med prerequisites, so I applied to the Interdepartmental Medical Science (IMS) program and the Master's in Medical Science (MMS) program. After talking to the advisors in the pre-med/pre-health office, I felt that the MS program would be a better fit.

What was your relationship with the faculty like?

I appreciated how available the faculty made themselves. Whenever I had a question, they were extremely receptive and helped me find the answer. We had regular review sessions before and after tests. Dr. Hurley, for example, even sat down with students in her research seminar and mapped out what our goals would be for our research project and helped us formulate a timeline. It seems like everyone here genuinely cares about the success of Drexel students.

What about your relationship with other students in the program?

It's an interesting learning environment in the post-bacc program. There's a lot of social diversity and life experience diversity, which is good. Some people are coming straight from undergrad. Some people, like me, have already had experience at the graduate level. And others are coming in after working for a few years. It added a lot of different perspectives to the curriculum and I think it enhanced my learning experience. I found that it was easy to make friends because it wasn't too competitive. We all want to get into medical school, but we're not competing against one another.

What did you like most about the curriculum?

Personally, I liked the second year of the curriculum more than the first year. During the second year, you focus on research. You're also able to take a few electives. I liked that Drexel allows you to branch out and find what you like. For example, I was able to take a medical genetics course that was being offered through the Master of Laboratory Animal Science (MLAS) program.

Can you tell me a little bit about your research project?

I worked in Dr. Pooja Jain's lab in the Immunology Department. I studied a retrovirus called human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV), using a technique called “flow cytometry” to look at the markers that T-cells express in different types of HTLV cases. My goal was to determine what influenced the change in marker levels if and when they occurred. Since I only had one school year to work on the project, I didn't quite reach that goal, but I learned a lot about the technique and made good progress.

As part of the research seminar, we had to write a paper and present our project. I also contributed to a textbook that the lab is putting out on human immunology. I wrote a few sections about what I was doing in the lab, and that was one of the most valuable parts of my time in the program.

Were you successful in getting into medical school?

Yes, I'm currently in my first year of medical school here at Drexel.

Do you feel prepared for medical school?

Definitely. I've been working as a tutor since my second year of public health and I've now taken on a leadership role in that tutoring program (the Center for Learning and Academic Success Services). That's been good because it helped me discover my learning style. I love that program because it's allowed me to meet so many other students. It also cements the information in my head because I'm being taught by a tutor and then I'm eventually becoming the tutor and teaching it to other people.

Do you know what area of medicine you might go into?

At the moment, I'm thinking pathology. It's pretty technical, which I like, and I'm really interested in it because it plays a role behind the scenes in almost every medical specialty, so I'd get to know a little bit about everything.

What advice would you give to someone who's considering the Medical Science program?

The biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you put as much as you can into the program because that's what you'll get out of it. It's a great opportunity to show that you can succeed in a medical school setting, but it's not a guarantee. You have to work for it. I'd recommend that you make sure you get to know people outside of class as well. It helped me out a lot to be able to work with other classmates and faculty outside of class, and to have a support system when I needed one.

Pink gloved hands with dropper, medical science graduate student at Drexel University College of Medicine.

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