Vincent Covelli ’07 is an ardent believer in the healing power of science. A fellow at the University of Virginia (UVA)’s School of Medicine, he hopes to put his training to good use by pursuing a career in infectious diseases.
A former biochemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Covelli earned an M.D. at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) and then served a three-year residency in the University of Connecticut’s School of Medicine. He expects to wrap up his UVA fellowship, which has an infectious disease and international health component, in 2017.
The College’s Laura Bulman recently caught up with the Arts and Sciences alumnus to discuss his plans:
1. Tell us about your current fellowship.
I am being trained to diagnose and treat infections caused by microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
In addition to my clinical training, I’m being trained as a physician-scientist. For example, I’m involved with a drug-resistance research program, where I’m studying the metabolic changes that take place, enabling the parasite Plasmodium falciparum to be resistant to anti-malarial drugs. Although rarely seen in the United States, malaria is responsible for hundreds of millions of clinical cases worldwide and nearly 1 million deaths every year, most of which occur in children under five years of age.
2. Do you do any public outreach?
At NYIT, I organized several blood-pressure screening events at a local church, designed to raise awareness of hypertension [i.e., high blood-pressure]. Recently, I taught high school students about sexually transmitted infections [STDs], an experience that was incredibly fulfilling.
3. How did Syracuse University prepare you for what you’re doing today?
Syracuse University was incredibly generous [with its financial aid]. Thanks to an educational grant, I was able to complete my undergraduate studies at a world-class institution. The College’s professors and academic programs were wonderful and prepared me for a career in medicine.
4. What else can you say about the College of Arts and Sciences?
Having role models [in the College] who were passionate about their work, as well as committed to my education was inspiring. They had—and have—attributes to which I aspire to emulate. One such person was Marvin Druger [professor emeritus of biology and science teaching].
I remain grateful for the many educational opportunities and lifelong friendships the College afforded me.
5. Why are the liberal arts important?
They provide you with a well-rounded education. In my field, it’s easy to have a narrow, almost microscopic focus on life. My liberal arts training has allowed me to see the “forest for the trees.”
6. What did you do at Syracuse University, outside of your studies?
Hung out at Bird Library. I probably should’ve had a personalized cubby, given all the time I spent there.
But seriously, I loved going to football and basketball games at the Carrier Dome. The sense of community at athletic events is unparalleled.
I’m also a foodie. I was a regular at many eateries on Marshall Street. I mean, who doesn’t like to unwind with friends at Faegan’s or Chuck’s?