Third-year neuroscience major Bradley Hamilton recently seized on a major networking opportunity that included leaders in health care and therapeutics as well as investors and entrepreneurs at the Cleveland Clinic 2015 Medical Innovations Summit.
Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of the blood-testing company Theranos—one of the most promising health care startups in the country—delivered the keynote address on the final day of the four-day conference, held in late October at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland. This year’s theme was “Memory. Mood. Movement” and highlighted advances in neuroscience.
Hamilton had not heard of the annual summit until this year. As an aspiring researcher and neurosurgeon, he says he couldn’t pass up an opportunity that was less than an hour away from Oberlin, even though tickets for the summit are close to $1,000. Acting on his enterprising spirit, he contacted the event organizers to see if they could offer a price break for an undergraduate. He found that the summit is almost never attended by undergrads, and he was admitted at no cost.
Holmes’ talk was a major draw for the summit, and Hamilton says her talk lived up to his expectations. At 31, she is the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. She dropped out of Stanford University her sophomore year and founded Theranos in 2003 to make cheaper, easier-to-use blood tests.
“I had already known about her phenomenal work ethic and brilliant, off-the-beaten-path methods, but seeing her in person really made me realize how morally upstanding she is. Personally, I found it inspiring to see someone who embodies success being so down to earth and humanitarian. I strongly believe that she acts for the right reasons and she encourages us all to do the same.”
Hamilton says hearing other speakers and meeting people who forged careers in different ways made his pursuit of a medical career feel more attainable. “The things I hope to do are not as distant or mystical as I made it out to be. As I listened to speaker after speaker talk about how we had incorrect perceptions of neurodegenerative diseases, and that current treatments were fundamentally flawed, I was forced to appreciate the critical perspective that I have gained from my science courses at Oberlin,” he says. “I was faced with real world applications of questioning why we do things the way we do. Going forward in research, I will strive to be cognizant of the fact that the way things are done is often not the best way.”
While he was networking, Hamilton met Eugene Malinskiy, founder and CEO of DragonID, a Cleveland-based biotechnology company, and Daniel Dudley ’12, an Oberlin graduate who is the company’s creative director. “It turns out that Daniel had not even been a science major, but his artistic background brought a needed touch to a science-heavy team. I had dinner with the two of them and was offered yet another opportunity for research projects, particularly with medical instruments.”
A native of Clemson, South Carolina, Hamilton is working toward a minor in East Asian Studies, and he is a year-round runner in cross country and track. He also speaks German and Japanese, and he says he intends to use those languages to foster international medical communication. “My ultimate goal is to make sure that as many people as possible have access to the best care available at the lowest cost at which it can be provided.”
After Oberlin, Hamilton says he intends to apply to medical school with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.