This July Alfred Chin, fourth year student in the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program, won the grand prize of 20,000€ at the 2022 Merck Innovation Cup.The Merck Innovation Cup is an annual competition open to PhD students/postdocs from all over the world to develop an innovative project plan. This year, 42 people (7 teams of 6) were invited to Darmstadt, Germany out of 3580 applicants. The grand prize was awarded by a jury of Merck scientists and managers.
Alfred was part of the winning team "Team Drug Discovery Technologies," comprised of graduate students from University of Oxford, German Cancer Research Center, and Humboldt University and one postdoc from University of Münster. Their team developed “SurfR”, a platform to revolutionize drug delivery by targeting cell surface RNA.
"The competition was an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening experience. Not only did I learn about hot areas in biotech like heterobifunctionals and antibody-drug conjugates, but I also got to connect with extremely bright people from all over the world. Our team was comprised of synthetic chemists, chemical biologists, and molecular biologists with myself being the only clinically-oriented member. We leveraged this diversity in expertise to ensure that our “SurfR” idea was strong from the fundamental chemistry to the clinical application. Another valuable aspect of attending the competition was the opportunity to learn about career opportunities and incredible science being performed in industry. For example, I got to extensively talk with a physician-scientist who contributed to the development of now-textbook drugs like rituximab."