Dustin Anderson

For the love of parasites

June 1, 2007

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By Stuart Colcleugh

Dustin Anderson has two academic loves—disease-causing parasites and neuroscience—and not necessarily in that order. But if all goes according to plan he will eventually be pursuing both loves simultaneously as a medical doctor and a scientist.

"I’ve always been in love with disease ever since I can remember," says Anderson, who graduates this spring with a B.Sc. in cell and molecular biology and a near-perfect 4.06 cumulative grade point average (out of a possible 4.33), having garnered numerous awards and scholarships along the way.

"I don’t know why, but when I was about 10 years old I used to read things like the B.C. Health Guide."

Anderson initially toyed with a career in electrical engineering, earning a diploma in electronics engineering technology from BCIT before coming to SFU.

But after his first course in parasitology with SFU biologist Carl Lowenberger, a Canada Research Chair in parasitology and vectors of disease, he found his calling.

"Yeah, I caught the bug," chuckles Anderson, who cites Lowenberger as a mentor along with SFU biologists Inigo Novales Flamarique and Kathleen Fitzpatrick.

"But I want to be doing clinical research on a human level. Take African sleeping sickness, for example. It’s a parasitic disease that goes to the brain of its host and causes a flurry of symptoms and yet pathologically we don’t really know what’s going on."

Outside class, Anderson served as a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and as a volunteer chemistry and physics tutor. He also coached youth baseball for five years.

Anderson’s next stop: the University of Calgary next fall to earn a doctorate in neuroscience. Meanwhile, he’s studying for the medical college admission test (MCAT). "My PhD is more neuroscience stuff," he says. "But I want to make it an MD-PhD program so I’m writing the MCAT and I’m hoping to be accepted into that program in September 2008."

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