The Young Investigator Draft is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the next generation of rare disease researchers.
These Young Investigators will pursue rare disease research in one of five different areas: rare cancers, rare autoimmune and immunological disorders, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders and rare muscular and neurological disorders.
To learn more about the Young Investigator Draft and to purchase tickets click here.
Researcher: Dr. Brian Sworder
Category: Rare Blood Disorders
Education: Dr. Sworder received his undergraduate degree in biology from UCLA before receiving his MD/PhD in molecular medicine from the Boston University School of Medicine. He was an HHMI-NIH Research Scholar for 22 months at the Howard Hughes Medical Center and was an Internal Medicine Resident at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai for two years.
Research: At Stanford Dr. Sworder’s research is focused on lymphoma and the various types of lymphoma – specifically B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Every B-cell or non-Hodgkins lymphoma has a receptor and it’s the same on every cell and it’s the same on every person. Dr. Sworder’s research is aiming to hit targets using new technology to see if they can design a receptor for people who haven’t responded well to chemotherapy.
In Their Words: “The patients we work with are fine day and the next day they have this horrible diagnosis and they are scared and anxious. It’s a lot … and sometimes it’s really hard. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. It is always a privilege to have people trust you enough to share those fears and anxieties with you and to hopefully be able to help them. That draws me to still want to do clinical medicine – to make things better when possible because we can’t help everybody. When somebody struggles it frustrates me and drives me to try and figure out how can we do better. That’s why I want to do science and clinical medicine.” – Dr. Brian Sworder
Dr. Brian Sworder is currently a Hematology and Oncology Fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine. He grew up in Orange County, California and went to Foothill High School where he played volleyball and first became intensely interested in science.
He majored in biology at UCLA and still was unsure what his career path was going to look like. So he took a year off and contemplated whether he wanted to be a teacher or pursue medical school.
During his year off he worked in a clinical laboratory to get a little experience while he applied to medical school was where he became extremely interested in both the research and clinical side of medicine.
“I got into it first for patients and to use research to change things and make it better … but more for the patients,” Dr. Sworder said. “In my first year of medical school I did a research internship with a research scientist and got an internship at the NIH. That’s what I realized what I wanted to do and understood that I wanted to research that impacts people and makes a difference in their care. In the middle of medical I actually did the research and got my PhD then went back to medical school.
“The synergy between clinical care and scientific research was a perfect opportunity for me in oncology. Today, I do more research than clinical work and it’s sort of flipped for me over time.”
Dr. Sworder was part of the team that recently treated 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion finalist Ryan Beecher. The Stanford Cardinal linebacker was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma prior to Stanford’s 2017 bowl game. Beecher underwent his treatment protocol and was able to return to the field for the start of the 2018 season.
“Ryan is an incredible young man,” said Dr. Sworder, who recently was married to Catharine and is a huge fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers. “Ryan was getting chemo and was asking me if he could still go to class. I was like ‘sure you can go but you don’t have to go.’ I wouldn’t have been able to get out of my bed. As soon as we were done, he went right back to training. He was an amazing patient.”