UC Davis Biomedical Engineering


BME Student Will Pursue Doctorate in Physical Therapy

Christopher Sanchez

Biomedical engineering undergraduate Christopher Sanchez has been accepted to the MGH Institute of Health Professions Doctor of Physical Therapy program. He also received a fellowship to support his study. The program  is a three year program geared to educate students in helping patients restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and limit permanent physical disabilities resulting from injury or disease.  This institution has clinical affiliations with world-class health care facilities – including Spaulding Rehabilitation, Massachusetts General and Brigham & Womens’ hospitals in Boston.

Christopher’s experiences in a clinical setting at the UCDMC and at Shriners Hospital for Children steered his interests toward physical therapy. He learned how involved physical therapists are in patient care and also recognized the potential growth in this area.  He observed how different medical devices were used in the treatment of patients with burns, spinal cord injuries, and orthopedics, and also noticed that therapists would make adjustments to these devices themselves, which seemed a good fit for his educational background and interest in physical rehabilitation. Christopher also worked in the lab with Dr. Nitin Nitin in the Food Science and Technology Department, where he worked in cell/tissue culture and fluorescence microscopy.

“Seeing the interplay between my educational background in biomedical engineering and how these clinicians worked with patients really spurred my interest in working in this setting. I cannot stress enough the value of becoming involved in an internship.  Working with the children at Shriners also confirmed for me the desire to work in pediatrics,” he said. “Having been able to learn from a faculty doing research at the edge of their field is one of the most invaluable aspects of my BME education. This program took my initial curiosity of the human body and cultivated in me a passion to dig deeper and go further. I learned in my undergrad that one of the most integral parts of bioengineering design was being able to identify a need. Once that need is found, all the background in engineering principles takes flight to bring to life unique and innovative solutions.  These aspects are what still guide me personally and in continuing my education and advancing my career goals.”

But it was his encounter with a 9-year old patient while volunteering at Shriners that set him on his current path.

“He was from a village in Mexico that did not have electricity and had experienced a significant amount of burns to his body.  Watching him grow and progress throughout treatment was really one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.  It is one of the reasons I chose this path and also the reason I hope to contribute some meaningful research in the field of burn treatment down the road.  I hope that my background in engineering and clinical experience will help me achieve these goals.”