By Anna Allen, ’16

For as long as he can remember, Matthew Purdy, ’14, has been interested in medicine. His aspirations truly started to take shape when he shadowed a close family friend and cardiology researcher, Marvin Woodall, who later became his mentor. It was through Woodall that Purdy acquired an internship this past summer with the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF), which required him to work hard and think creatively to help develop new cardiovascular procedures.

Currently on the pre-med track at Richmond, Purdy is majoring in biology and minoring in business administration. His internship at the CRF’s Skirball Center for Cardiovascular Research (SCCR) in Orangeburg, NY, was a natural step. “This past summer was a very exciting one, getting me one step closer to medical school,” he says.

Cardiologists and researchers work with the CRF to test new equipment and determine if they can use it in clinical therapy. In order to conduct new methods for research, the SCCR hosts sponsors, such as Boston Scientific and Amarth, both leading producers of stents. “I was exposed to a variety of cardiovascular research,” Purdy says. Most of the research methods he encountered will most likely be seen in 10 to 20 years. “Some may eventually become very common procedures,” he says.

Learning about different research methods wasn’t the only hands-on experience Purdy found at the CRF. He also assisted with pre-, intra-, and post-operations. A licensed Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), he applied his training by collecting animals’ vital signs and reading EKG graphs during surgery.

He also says a lot of the research and writing skills that he developed at Richmond were useful when he helped doctors analyze data, and write and edit papers. He even had the opportunity to co-author four different abstracts, all of which were sent in for submission to the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference. One of the four articles was published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) this past October.

Working with such a diverse group of physicians was an incredibly exciting and fun experience for Purdy. “It was neat to see how they all had the same thing in common: this love for cardiology and working together to find cures,” he says. “It was of the best summers I’ve had so far.” 

Purdy’s summer wasn’t entirely focused on his internship, though. He also prepared for the MCAT exam and applied to medical schools. Now halfway through his senior year, it’s a waiting game as he looks out for the next word on his medical school applications. In the meantime, he still has plenty of opportunities to implement some of the knowledge he acquired over the summer at CRF. “I learned a lot about how to work with people, how to think of things, how to research, and how to translate ideas,” he says. “It’s all about questioning the unknown and asking, how can we make this better?” 

Photo: Matthew Purdy (left) and Juan Granada, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the CRF Skirball Research Center (right)