UBC Rhodes Scholar Boosts Global Access to University-Patented Medicine

A science student who helped to make UBC-patented medicine more accessible in developing countries has been named the 2008 Rhodes Scholar for British Columbia.

The scholarship of nearly $150,000 will allow fourth-year student Emma Preston to pursue a masters degree in global health science at Oxford University, starting October 2008.

“UBC is extremely proud to have one of our students named to this distinguished scholarship,” says Brian Sullivan, UBC vice-president, Students. “Emma has achieved not only outstanding academic excellence, she has demonstrated remarkable commitment to global citizenship.”

Preston, of Vancouver, B.C., aims to improve public health policy affecting marginalized populations. At UBC, she was a founding member of a chapter of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM). Thanks in part to her efforts, in 2007 UBC became the first university in Canada to commit to a UAEM initiative to make university-patented technologies and pharmaceuticals accessible in developing countries.

“Being chosen for the Rhodes scholarship still feels quite surreal,” says Preston, a microbiology and immunology major. “The other candidates were all extremely qualified. It is a huge honour just to be included in that group.”

An outdoors enthusiast and avid intramural basketball player, Preston has complemented her studies as a research assistant at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. She has performed laboratory research on resistance to antiretroviral medication, studied drug use epidemiology and local public health policy, and she ran a leadership program at Camp Moomba, a national summer camp for children affected by HIV/AIDS.

The Rhodes Scholarships, established in 1902, were designed to bring outstanding students from across the world to study at Oxford University, in the interests of promoting international understanding and public service. One student from every province is chosen each year.

The scholarships require a high level of literacy and scholastic achievement, success in sports, strong qualities of leadership and character, and evidence of public service. Past recipients include former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Prime Minister John Turner, a UBC alumnus. Since 1916, 65 UBC students have been named Rhodes Scholars.

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