Prescription for Success: Med Student Wins Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship

Raheel Ata

Raheel Ata BS’15, who received his white coat as he began medical school at Stanford University this fall, earned a $5,000 Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship for his dedication to the intersection of medicine and technology. He graduated from UT Dallas in May with a degree in biochemistry.

UT Dallas alumnus Raheel Ata BS’15 knew he wanted to someday work in the medical field.

His specific career niche crystallized during his Archer Fellow semester in Washington, D.C. While doing clinical rotations at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Ata observed investigational clinical trials with veterans, using devices such as robotic arms for amputees.

“It gave me a model for what I wanted to do. I was seeing patients who aren’t being helped because the technology they need doesn’t yet exist,” he said. “I’d like to be an academic physician who works with industry to develop new technologies for medical applications.”

Ata, who is focusing on bioengineering and bioinformatics this fall at Stanford University Medical School, was recognized for his dedication to ­the intersection of medicine and technology with a $5,000 Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship.

It is the fourth year in a row — as long as UT Dallas has been a Phi Kappa Phi chapter member — that a student or alumnus from the University has received a fellowship from the honor society.

In 2013, Dina Shahrokhi won the Marcus L. Urann fellowship of $15,000, and $5,000 fellowships were given to Kayla Klein, a neuroscience and biology graduate, in 2014, and Emily Lichtenheld, an economics and international political economy graduate, in 2012.

It was an absolute honor to not only be selected for the fellowship, but to also represent UT Dallas in the national competition. I am extremely grateful to all the people who helped me in the application process.

Raheel Ata BS’15

“I was extremely excited when I heard,” said Ata, an alumnus of the McDermott Scholars program who graduated in May with a degree in biochemistry. “It was an absolute honor to not only be selected for the fellowship, but to also represent UT Dallas in the national competition. I am extremely grateful to all the people who helped me in the application process.”

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi awards 51 fellowships of $5,000 each and six at $15,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study.

The awards are extremely competitive. Each chapter can submit only one nominee each year.

“Raheel continues our tradition of putting forward excellent candidates for this fellowship,” said Dr. Edward Harpham, dean of the Honors College.

“Raheel combines a raw intelligence and work ethic with a commitment to excellence that is inspiring. His instincts are entrepreneurial,” he said.

Because of Ata’s zeal for learning, he was offered a student research position the summer before his freshman year, working in the polymer chemistry laboratory of UT Dallas faculty member and 2001 McDermott Scholar Dr. Walter Voit.

Ata’s undergraduate experience also included studying medical ethics at Oxford University in a one-on-one tutorial, and completing an internship at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, where he created a spreadsheet that calculates parameters for neurological devices.

UT Dallas Phi Kappa Phi Fellows

2015: Raheel Ata
2014: Kayla Klein
2013: Dina Shahrokhi
2012: Emily Lichtenheld

“Not many physicians know how the FDA process works. I’d like to help bridge that gap and improve the way clinicians translate new technologies to patients,” Ata said.

Ata said Stanford was his “dream choice” for medical school because of its culture of innovation and the influence of Silicon Valley.

His latest passion is at the intersection of telemedicine and digital health: developing platforms for medical devices to digitally interface with physicians.

“I think we can leverage the medical device data to get quicker medical results with better outcomes, which ultimately would help improve health care in America,” Ata said. 

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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