restructure the first and second year medical curriculum into an integrated, system-based
The future Dr. Burchett is currently a lecturer in two courses in the College of Medicine,
in which she teaches the methods and results from her research opportunities at UK.
Marys research is more than a passing interest to her. When she was five, she was
diagnosed with Marfans syndrome by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was 6 feet tall at
Because of her competitive nature, she was playing softball at Lexington Catholic High
School in seventh grade. However, her doctors warned her that this could seriously impact her
health in the future. So instead of sports, Mary put her energies into awareness about her
disorder. She spoke to over 120 medical professionals in Kentucky during her junior year of
high school for a Girl Scout project.
At the UK College of Medicine, she has worked on a Marfans syndrome-based research
proj ect that was recently accepted for publication with Dr. Steven Estus, identifying altemative
splicing in fibrillin, which is the connective protein created by the FBNl gene that causes her
disorder. In fibrillin splicing, she was looking at how isofonns were expressed in different
organs and at different ages, which had never been done before.
Through her work she made a connection to the College of Medicines Senior Associate
Dean for Research and Gill Foundation Chair in Preventive Cardiology Alan Daugherty. Dr.
Daugherty invited Mary to attend the Intemational Marfans syndrome conference in Warrenton,
Virginia last year, and this was a dream come true for this enthusiastic student and researcher.
Most recently, as a research fellow in the lab, she received a McKusick Fellowship, the
largest research grant available from the National Marfan Foundation.
All ofthe positive developments in UK funding and faculty support have only served to
bolster her commitment to serve her fellow Kentuckians. Mary made the following statement:
"I would love to practice medicine in Kentucky. My goal is to provide patient care, to continue
my research, and to increase awareness through the experiences of my childhood. And, I
wouldnt have been able to unite all of those interests without the University of Kentucky."
President Capilouto invited Ms. Burchett to tell the Board more about her research.
Ms. Burchett thanked President Capilouto, Chair Brockrnan, and members of the Board
for inviting her to be with them. She said most ofthe accolades were things that she was driven
to do because she was looking for answers when she was a young child. She was trying to find a
doctor who would take care of her. She felt like she was very fortunate because at the age of five
she had a chest defonnity that needed operative repair. When her father knew that the repair of
the surgery required knowledge of whether she had Marfans syndrome or not, he continued to
press. He asked questions. He took her to multiple specialists. And finally at John Hopkins, she
received the diagnosis.