Murdoch, Mr. Travis

2008 Winner: Leaders of Tomorrow

Young Scientist Sees His Future In Alberta

At 16 years old and still a keen high school student, Travis Murdoch joined the University of Alberta’s clinical islet transplantation team as part of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research – Heritage Youth Researcher Summer program. That experience was to set the course of his life.

In 2002 he won the Governor General’s medal. By the age of 20, he had published a primary-author publication reviewing the current knowledge surrounding methods of clinical islet culture.

By 2006 Mr. Murdoch’s scientific focus was trained on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He is developing a novel diagnostic and monitoring tool for IBD using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to profile the metabolites present in urine samples. Now at 23, Mr. Murdoch can be found on the campus of Oxford University in England working on his MSc in Integrated Immunology, a recipient of a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. He returns this fall to the U of A to complete his final year of medical school.

“I want to go to other top centres around the world and bring back what I’ve learned, so Alberta can build on the strong foundations we already have in the province,” he says. ”That’s my goal.”

Mr. Murdoch’s impressive CV includes humble roles like volunteering as a canvasser for the Alberta Heart and Stroke Fund up to positions of significant responsibility like chairperson for SHINE Cline Ethics Committee. He also has a list of music credentials that include performing in bands and producing CDs.

But science is still his primary passion.

Mr. Murdoch hopes to make his mark in three main areas. The first is mentorship. He attributes his own achievement to the mentors who have guided him and hopes to give the same back. “Science is a human endeavour,” he says.  “Science needs people to motivate and get others really excited about it.”

Mr. Murdoch’s second area of interest is in being a clinician, so he can “take science and see it work at the bedside.”  And thirdly, he hopes that research will continue to be a major focus throughout his career. “I want to take a clinical question—one that comes from directly seeing a patient—into the lab and fi nd a pragmatic solution that I can use to help the patient, be it better diagnosis, treatment, or overall patient care. ”And he hopes to do it in Alberta. “I think Alberta is in an amazing position right now. We’ve reached critical mass with a lot of great people working here and strong funding,”  he says. “I’m excited about the potential of Alberta.”