Honors Students Gain Early Admission to Tufts Medical School

(This article appeared on the UMaine News Blog, 24 November 2009.)

Contact: Kristen Andresen at (207) 581-3742

Two UMaine Students Gain Early Admission to Tufts Medical School

ORONO — Applying to medical school can be a full-time job. But for two University of Maine juniors, the job has become a lot easier.

Microbiology major Jonathan Pelletier of Falmouth, Maine, and biochemistry major Aaron Perreault of Northfield, N.H., recently learned that they had received early acceptance to Tufts University School of Medicine through the Maine Track Early Assurance program. Born of a partnership between Tufts and Maine Medical Center, this new program reserves a limited number of slots per year for students from UMaine System institutions, Bowdoin, Bates and Colby.

That two this year’s slots went to UMaine students underscores the quality of UMaine’s pre-med offerings.

“It does speak to the fact that we are preparing students well for medical school,” says Robert Gundersen, chair of UMaine’s Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. “This lets (Jonathan and Aaron) approach the next two years focusing on what they need to learn, instead of all the other things they need to focus on in order to get into medical school.”

Though they will still need to complete their course requirements, Pelletier and Perreault can skip the MCATs and the rigorous application process.

“Academically, it is an honor and I’m thrilled to have it,”says Pelletier, an Honors student and Microbiology major from Falmouth, Maine. “In terms of academic mobility, it has freed me up do some really cool things this year.”

At UMaine, Pelletier researches arsenic in relation to mast cells in Professor Julie Gosse’s lab. He is passionate about philanthropic medicine and plans to spend the summer of 2010 volunteering in an orphanage in Peru. Last summer, he received a Rezendes Global Services Scholarship from UMaine’s Honors College that allowed him to volunteer in a clinic in Pommern, Tanzania. Pelletier also will use the extra time afforded by the Maine Track program to pursue his passion for music.

Perreault, a Biochemistry major and Honors student from Northfield, N.H., works in Professor Carol Kim’s lab as part of her research to develop a zebrafish model for studying cystic fibrosis. Perreault always had an interest in medicine, but a presentation by UMaine  alumnus and Nobel laureate Dr. Bernard Lown cemented his decision to become a doctor.

“When he came here, he really inspired me and showed me that this profession can be really rewarding and you can go a long way with it, as he’s done,” Perreault said.

About Tufts Maine Track:

Tufts Maine Track is a partnership between Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine that offers clinical training experiences in Maine and exposes medical students to aspects of rural practice and training in a major tertiary medical center. More information about the Tufts Maine Track program is available at http://www.tufts.edu/med/education/mdmainetrack/index.html