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Ogden Honors College Senior Zachary Fitzpatrick Receives Prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Fitzpatrick is the first LSU student to receive this award

LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College senior Zachary Fitzpatrick has been awarded a 2015 Gates Cambridge Scholarship. This award will allow him to pursue a fully funded Master of Philosophy degree in Clinical Science, with a specialization in Rare Diseases, at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship competition annually awards 40 full scholarships to US undergraduates for the pursuit of postgraduate degrees at Cambridge. Fitzpatrick is the first LSU student to receive this prestigious award.

"We offer our congratulations to Zachary on becoming the first LSU student to receive a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. This award will support his study at Cambridge, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and is on par with the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford," said LSU President F. King Alexander. "This is a well-deserved honor for him and is yet another example of the endless opportunities available to our graduates on the national and international stage."

Fitzpatrick, a native of Holden, Louisiana, is an Ogden Honors College and College of Science senior who is majoring in biochemistry, with minors in political science and chemistry. He is a LaSTEM Research Scholar and an LSU-HHMI Undergraduate Research Fellow, and was recognized by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship competition with an Honorable Mention in both 2012 and 2013. He was also a finalist in this year’s Rhodes Scholarship competition. Fitzpatrick expects to graduate from LSU with College Honors in 2015.

“I couldn't be prouder of the Ogden Honors College's first-ever Gates Cambridge winner, “ said Ogden Honors College Dean Dr. Jonathan Earle. “Cambridge University is the ideal place for Zach to continue his exciting research and develop his impressive leadership skills. “

As an HHMI Fellow, Fitzpatrick has conducted research on gene therapy techniques in rare diseases medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; the Pasteur Institute of Lille, France; and Harvard Medical School. In the summer of 2014, Fitzpatrick worked as an undergraduate researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, where he continued to explore the use of non-pathogenic viruses as gene therapy delivery mechanisms.

“I often say, generally speaking, that one of our LA-STEM Scholars will win a Nobel Prize, based on their extraordinary talent and motivation,” said Dr. Isiah Warner, LSU Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Boyd Professor of Chemistry. “In all of my interactions with Zachary, I can say with certainty that he is on track to achieve this honor, as his mindset and abilities are exceptional. As the first undergraduate in LSU’s history to receive the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Zachary is a shining example of what happens when preparation meets opportunity. He has truly maximized everything that he has been given and has proven to be a great ambassador for LSU. We are extremely proud of him, and the best is yet to come!”

At Cambridge, Fitzpatrick plans to work in the lab of gene therapy pioneer Dr. Timothy Cox, who develops translational gene therapy techniques for the treatment of lysosomal disorders.

“It’s such an immense honor to join the Gates Cambridge community,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know that this extraordinary opportunity will prepare me to make contributions to rare diseases research, which still has substantial unmet medical needs. The UK and the University of Cambridge are at the forefront of innovation in rare diseases and genetic research, and I greatly look forward to learning from pioneering investigators in the field, including my prospective mentor Dr. Timothy Cox in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Cox is developing life-saving treatments for Tay-Sachs disease and other rare inherited disorders which currently lack effective cures.”

Fitzpatrick’s work at Cambridge will form the cornerstone of his planned doctoral work on rare diseases medicine in a Medical Scientist Training Program (a more competitive and streamlined version of the M.D.-Ph.D. degree).

Fitzpatrick has also conducted public health research on practices in pediatric immunology and gene-therapy pricing. He is writing his Honors Thesis on the development and enhancement of virus vectors for therapeutic gene transfer, and on the ethical implications of gene therapy implementation.

“Zachary is one of LSU's shining stars, an outstanding example of the caliber of students in the LSU College of Science," said Cynthia Peterson, Dean of the LSU College of Science and Seola Arnaud and Richard Vernon Edwards Jr. Professor. "His research pursuits, exemplary academic performance and commitment to bettering his community have made him a standout at LSU and now an internationally recognized scholar." 

Fitzpatrick worked closely with the Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising to prepare himself for the scholarship competition process.

“I am extremely thankful to my mentors from all disciplines—in science, medicine and public health—who have opened my eyes to the burden of rare genetic diseases, encouraged my scholarly pursuits and inspired me to serve this patient community,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I am so grateful for continued support from the Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising and particularly from Dr. Drew Lamonica Arms, whose guidance and advice has been invaluable throughout the Gates Cambridge application and interview process.”

Fitzpatrick has served in LSU Student Government as College of Science Student Senator, where he helped to implement initiatives that encourage undergraduate involvement in research. He has also served as a Reading Friend in East Baton Rouge Public Schools, as a volunteer for the Baton Rouge Boys and Girls Club, and as a Child Life Volunteer in emergency room of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Fitzpatrick was named the LSU College of Science 2012 Most Outstanding Sophomore and 2014 Most Outstanding Senior, the LSU Honors College 2013 Most Outstanding Junior, and in 2013 received the College of Science Dean’s Award.

“What a privilege it has been to work with this amazing young man,” said Dr. Drew Lamonica Arms, Director of Fellowship Advising at the Ogden Honors College. “Zach will do great things at Cambridge and for the rare diseases community. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

 

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarship competitions in the world. Founded in 2000 by a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the program annually awards 95 full-cost scholarships worldwide to the University of Cambridge. Recipients pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject offered at Cambridge.

The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program is a program managed by the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI). OSI’s vision is to support the high achievements of LSU students, faculty, and staff through education, mentoring, and research. For more information visit http://osi.lsu.edu.  

The LSU Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising assists students in applying for prestigious undergraduate and post-graduate fellowships and scholarships. For more information about our fellowship advising resources, or to schedule an appointment, contactfellowships@lsu.edu.

The LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Honors College typically admits the top 10 percent of incoming LSU freshmen, and provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.  

 

For more information, contact Liz Billet, LSU Ogden Honors College, at 225-578-0083 or lbillet@lsu.edu