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Four Queens College Pre-Med Students Receive Salk Scholarships

-- Recognized for Outstanding Research in Such Areas as Genetics and Cancer; Reward-related Learning; the Antibacterial Properties of Salt; and Neurons and Behavior  --

FLUSHING, N.Y., MAY 20, 2010 – Four outstanding Queens College premedical students – recognized for their research on such subjects as the role of genetics in cancer and aging, antimicrobial properties of organic salts, connections between new neuron growth and behavior, and reward-related learning – have been awarded Jonas E. Salk Scholarships to study medicine after graduation this month. The Salk scholarships are the most prestigious awards bestowed by the City University of New York (CUNY); eight are given out each year. 

“To receive half of the Salk scholarships that CUNY awarded this year is a remarkable accomplishment,” says QC President James Muyskens. “We are proud of these four students’ academic excellence and public service and are confident they will continue to excel, whether they serve as healers or scientists.”

The Salk awards acknowledge the high ability and scholarship of students who plan careers in medicine and the biological sciences, and who are judged likely to make significant contributions to medicine and research. Recipients are selected on the basis of original research papers undertaken with prominent scientist/mentors. They must also have been accepted by a medical school.

The scholarships are a tribute to Dr. Jonas E. Salk, the 1934 City College alum who developed the polio vaccine in 1955. He turned down a ticker-tape parade in honor of his discovery, asking that the money be used for scholarships. That year, New York City provided initial funding for the Salk Scholarships. The endowment provides a stipend of $8,000 per scholar, to be appropriated over three or four years of medical studies, to help defray medical school costs. Salk Scholars also receive achievement citations and diagnostic kits that include an otoscope and ophthalmoscope.

And the QC Salk Scholars Are…

Miriam Hershman, a summa cum laude graduate who will be attending SUNY Downstate Medical Center, has researched the development of new antimicrobial surfaces and agents that may potentially combat highly dangerous, resistant bacteria in hospitals and other settings. A history major and chemistry minor at QC, Hershman focused specifically on the use of polycationic lipid salts to synthesize materials that could serve as pharmaceutical antibacterials.

The daughter of physicians and a resident of West Hempstead, Hershman grew up immersed in medicine, is interested in pharmacology, and plans to become a clinician and researcher. “I am determined to incorporate research into my clinical practice,” she wrote in a statement submitted to the judges. “In so doing I believe I can extend the best possible care to my patients.”

Daniel Lubelski, a member of the Macaulay Honors College and a neuroscience biology major and psychology major at QC, will attend Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Lubelski is currently at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., where he is studying reward-related learning in rats. Lubelski had originally dreamed of a career in law, but found medicine more meaningful. “I know that as a physician I will be able to help others, thereby giving my life meaning and purpose,” he said in his statement.

Zahava Rubel, a double major in biology and anthropology and an accomplished pianist who has studied at the college’s Aaron Copland School of Music, has been accepted to the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. For Rubel, music and medicine are “profoundly intertwined …. My passion for science, medicine and the human body combined with the skill set I have gained from music, continue to drive me forward in my quest to become a doctor.” According to Rubel’s mentor, QC biology professor Alicia Melendez, her student’s research could eventually lead to new genetic and pharmacologic approaches in the treatment of certain cancers and in the prevention of aging. Rubel resides in Lawrence, N.Y.

Sara Wildstein, who is also a member of the Macaulay Honors College, will attend Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Wildstein’s work examined the relationship between the growth of new neurons in the brain and behavior. “I can see how my results have direct relevance to the nervous system and the treatment of neurological disorders,” she wrote. “My solid foundation in the biomedical sciences will enable me as a physician to administer the best course of treatment for my patients.” While at QC, the West Hempstead resident received an undergraduate research fellowship at the Systems Biology Center of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), founded in 1937, is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Its more than 20,000 students come from over 140 nations and speak scores of languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment. Located on a beautiful, 77-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. Each year Queens College has been cited by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. In addition, U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges (2010) ranks QC among the top 10 public universities in its category “Best Universities—Master’s (North).” The college opened its first residence hall in August 2009. More info on Queens College at


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