UNC Greensboro undergraduate Evan Bradner’s interest in medicine began at a young age, during an exceptionally difficult time.
As his mother fought cancer, he witnessed the ravages of not only the disease, but of the chemotherapy used to treat it. He often accompanied his mother to her appointments, asking questions of the doctors and caregivers. The experience left a lasting impact on Bradner.
“I watched my mom struggle with cancer about 10 or 11 years ago,” Bradner said. “It was terrible watching her experience the cancer, but it was also terrible watching her undergo the chemotherapy and the side effects, so being a part of something that fixes that problem is really inspiring to me.”
On Dec. 7, Bradner will graduate with a dual degree in economics and biochemistry, the first of many educational milestones in his journey to become a doctor. Bradner is part of the Lloyd International Honors College and will be the first student to have completed two senior projects in Disciplinary Honors in the two different disciplines, biochemistry and economics.
For the past four years, Bradner’s time at UNCG has not only taught him the fundamentals of medicine and economics, but provided him numerous opportunities to make an immediate impact in cancer research and public health.
In the summer of 2017, Bradner interned with the Danville Regional Foundation, researching ways to alleviate barriers to healthy living, food access, and medicine access in the Danville, Virginia, area near his hometown of Blanch, North Carolina. Familiar with the health care difficulties people in economically depressed communities face, Bradner was driven to better understand how to bring care to the patients who need it most. The internship resulted in a 20-page report on ways to improve access to medical care in the area. It also inspired his undergraduate thesis in economics, for which he studied community health projects in Danville and wrote a mock grant proposing ways to bring these projects to other communities.
“In areas like Danville, people are medically underserved,” Bradner said. “It’s difficult to find and connect with the care you need. That really creates a problem where you can’t afford care or find care, and, ultimately, people suffer. So, I’ve seen that first hand, and that’s encouraged me to remember the big picture of health and those who need care the most.”
In addition to his work in public health economics, he’s spent over a year working under Dr. Sherri McFarland with the McFarland Research Group at UNCG. There, he’s helped synthesize a family of photoactive drugs as anticancer agents. This family of drugs could potentially reduce the suffering of those seeking treatment for specific cancers by destroying tumors with the application of light, allowing for more targeted treatment of cancer cells and sparing healthy tissue. Bradner’s research with the McFarland Research Group has already been published in the Journal of Inorganic Chemistry.
“Four years ago, I couldn’t have imagined I would be here doing all this. UNCG is where I found my impact and my passions,” Bradner said. “I’m applying to medical school now, and I’d like to be a doctor making a real impact.”
Story by Victor Ayala, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications
Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications