Anton Mararenko presents his breast cancer research at the CSI Undergraduate Conference on Research, Scholarship, and Performance earlier this month.

Anton Mararenko, Class of 2015, Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island earned the prestigious CUNY Jonas E. Salk Scholarship. The Salk scholarship identifies students entering the fields of medicine and the biological sciences who are most likely to make an impact on medicine and research.

Mararenko is a graduating senior of the Macaulay Honors College who is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in business. He has recently been accepted to the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he will pursue a doctorate in medicine. Anton has an excellent academic record as well as extra-curricular and community service activities.

Like Jonas Salk, Mararenko was inspired to pursue research that will provide great benefits for future medical treatment. He has worked with his long-time mentor, Professor Sebastian Poget, on research concerning factors that affect mutations in proteins, which has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Interested in biotechnology and virology, Mararenko believes it is possible to repair and enhance the human body using genetics just as antibiotic-resistant cells can be developed using viral vectors. Pharmacology, he added, is one of the biggest sectors of medicine than can be greatly enhanced. In his research in Professor Shuiqin Zhou’s laboratory he helped show that it is possible to introduce a mutation into an enzyme that can change its specificity towards a substrate. Such successes can bolster understanding of protein folding and confirm theories about amino acid interactions, he added, laying the groundwork for a field that can specialize in designing and synthesizing enzymes for specific purposes. Such purposes might include creating molecular sanitation agents that break down synthetic materials that pollute the earth as well as changing the enzymes that we know of within organisms.

About the Jonas Salk Scholarship

Created by the Board of Estimate of the City of New York in 1955 to honor the City College graduate who developed the first anti-polio vaccine, the Jonas Salk scholarships are awarded annually to eight graduates of the CUNY senior colleges. The scholarships are awarded to students who have been accepted to a U.S. medical school and have performed scientific research as an undergraduate. The student’s research papers are reviewed and recipients are selected for their potential to make significant contributions to medical research. The winners receive a total of $8,000 ($2,000 per year for four-year medical schools) to help defray the cost for the MD, PhD, or DSc in Biomedical Sciences or DO degree. Two paid summer internships at the Salk Institute for Biomedical Studies in La Jolla, California may also be available to recipients of the Salk Scholarship. Students must apply for the scholarship through their campus pre-medical office.

Michele Galati, Fellowship & Scholarship Advisor, CSI Career & Scholarship Center and the CUNY Office of Communications, have contributed to this report.