Calling Dr. Grade: 2012 Barrett graduate now practicing emergency medicine in San Francisco

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July 24, 2020

Madeline Grade has achieved great things since she graduated Arizona State University eight years ago with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. 

After completing her undergraduate degree in 2012, she received a prestigious Marshall Scholarship to study for two years in the United Kingdom, where she attended the University College London for an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for an MSc in Public Health. 

The Marshall Scholarship funds two to three years of study toward a graduate degree at the student’s choice of leading universities in the UK. No more than 40 students are selected each year, which is only five percent of all the students nominated for the scholarship by universities. 

After completing her studies in the UK, Grade attended medical school at Stanford University. She now serves as a resident physician in emergency medicine in San Francisco. 

Madeline Grade

“I was lucky to be awarded the Marshall Scholarship at the end of undergrad,” Grade said. “It was one of the most transformative experiences of my life.”

Grade, who grew up in Arizona, received in-state scholarships to attend ASU after graduating as valedictorian from Gilbert High School in 2008.

“It was an easy choice to come to Barrett, it gave me the feel of a small residential liberal arts college within the community and resources of a large research university,” Grade said.

She said she loved being in the Barrett community during her time at ASU.

“The Human Event remains one of my favorite classes of all time,” she said, referring to the honors college’s signature course. 

“The honors faculty were incredible and really dedicated to enhancing our education. The honors dorms are where I met my best friends from college, who are all super motivated and interesting people and up to some really impressive things in the world now,” Grade said.

During her undergraduate years, Grade started the ASU iGEM team, a group of undergraduates that competed in an international synthetic biology competition. 

“We were what I call ‘CRISPR hipsters’ and did a project on CRISPR, a genetic engineering tool, far before it became a research sensation,” Grade said.

She went on to do her honors thesis about her team’s CRISPR project for the IGEM competition, as well as the experience of creating and teaching a new undergraduate course called "Introduction to Synthetic Biology". 

“I learned so much from being given the freedom and flexibility to start and lead these projects, all thanks to our mentors Dr. Xiao Wang and Dr. Karmella Haynes, as well as generous funding support from (ASU President) Michael Crow and the deans of the Engineering School,” she said.

Grade also conducted neurology research at the Mayo Clinic, where she found inspiration to become a physician.

“I got some invaluable exposure to medicine early in undergrad through the Mayo Clinic-Barrett Honors College Premedical Scholars program, which was influential in choosing medicine as a career later on,” Grade said.

She was involved in several student organizations including Undergraduate Student Government and Project CURE. She also volunteered with Engineers Without Borders and worked with fellow students on a water treatment project in the Ecuadorian rainforest. 

Grade said her favorite recollection from her Barrett years was being an Honors Devil.

“I was an Honors Devil and helped give tours at Barrett, which was a super fun way to get involved and be reminded of all the reasons I loved my community there,” she said. “I still keep in touch with my "tour buddies" - one of them is also a medical resident at UCSF (University of California San Francisco) - and remain skilled at walking backwards while talking.” 

Her current interests, aside from being a frontline provider during the COVID pandemic, include health policy, public health, health technology, and advocacy. 

Grade also is still involved in Arizona from afar as the regional lead for VotER, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization promoting voter registration in healthcare settings.

Grade said Barrett students are fortunate to be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities the honors college provides. 

“You are lucky to have the "best of both worlds" in Barrett and ASU, a smaller community and dedicated faculty that can give you specialized support, as well as the resources of a vast Research I university,” she said. “This is your time to come up with a wild idea and make it happen. All you have to do is ask.”

She also highly encourages students to pursue a fellowship after college.

“The Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA) has a stellar track record,” said Grade, who received assistance with her Marshall Scholarship application from ONSA.

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