Our Washington: Funding tomorrow’s discoveries

Campaign helps students like the School of Medicine's Maya Silver study brain disorders

Maya Silver
Maya Silver, a second-year medical student, is studying the connection between the environment and brain disorders. Scholarship support allows her to focus on research, she said. (Photo: Robert Boston/Washington University School of Medicine)

Our Washington, the faculty and staff component of Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, has raised $41.9 million. Some of that money will support important research initiatives; some of it will build state-of-the-art facilities. And some of it will go to students like Maya Silver.

Silver, a second-year student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is passionate about brain science. She was a top student at Johns Hopkins University and was accepted into some of the nation’s top medical programs. She picked Washington University thanks, in part, to the school’s generous scholarship support.

“I wanted to be some place with strong research where I would be happy and feel at home,” Silver said. “WashU was that place. The community here is so welcoming. But Washington University also provided the most support. Obviously medical school without financial aid would be a horrendous financial burden, but the support I have received allows me and my classmates to focus on learning to be excellent doctors.”

Silver is doing important research exploring the possible link between drinking water and Parkinson’s disease. She is analyzing Medicare data to track where Parkinson patients live and where they get their water.

“We know the incidences of Parkinson’s are not the same all over the country,” Silver said. “One factor could be drinking water that comes from more polluted sources or has high level of contaminants from agriculture. This research is really interesting because it helps us better understand the ways the environment may contribute to Parkinson’s.

“And, on a personal level, it fits into my conception of what medicine can be. As a physician, I want give patients the best treatment but also make a wider impact through research.”

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said donations to Our Washington support outstanding students like Silver as well as their vital research.

“Our students are making important contributions to improve global health and medicine,” Wrighton said. “Everyone benefits when talented students are given the resources they need to succeed.”

Employees are asked to give at a level that feels comfortable to them. Wrighton said every gift, big or small, makes an impact.

Employees may donate to the school, scholarship, program or fund of their choice through a monthly payroll deduction, online or by mail. Bequests and planned gifts also count toward Our Washington. Donors at any level will receive a Washington University keychain.

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