Bellevue teen with cystic fibrosis receives scholarship

Jacob Greene, a senior at Bellevue Christian School, was awarded a $5,000 “All in for CF” scholarship from Vertex to attend Stanford University for the 2017-18 academic school year.

Greene was born with cystic fibrosis, a rare genetic disease that causes thick mucus in the lungs and results in chronic infections and progressive lung damage that, in many patients, leads to death. Greene is one of the first recipients of the “All in for CF” scholarships.

Vertex is a global biotechnical company that focuses on developing and commercializing medicines to aid people with serious diseases to lead better lives. Vertex launched the “All in for CF” scholarship program to help people with cystic fibrosis and their immediate family members pursue two-year, four-year or graduate degrees.

“Our new scholarship program reflects the fact that CF impacts entire families by helping people with CF, their caregivers, siblings and children pursue their academic goals,” said Jeffrey Leiden, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Vertex in a press release.

“In addition to our All in for CF scholarship, we have established programs to help people with CF live active lives and support independent basic science and clinical research that may improve the care of people with CF like Jacob,” said Vertex spokesperson Chris Stamm.

Greene will be studying biomedical computation in the fall. He has been interested in pursuing medicine since his sophomore year of high school.

“I’ve always been interested in science. I wanted to be an engineer in junior high and freshman year of high school. I found that engineering wasn’t something I was terribly passionate about and so I looked into medicine a little bit and then started doing my internship at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, and I found that medicine is something I’m passionate about,” he said.

Along with his internship at Fred Hutch, he has been public speaking at hospitals regarding patient/doctor and patient/parent dynamics, in addition to his experience living with cystic fibrosis.

Greene described what his life is like with cystic fibrosis.

“[It’s] a genetic chronic illness that affects lungs primarily and causes mucus. I do about an hour-and-a-half of therapy per day, which consists of nebulizers and a mechanical vest that helps diminish the mucus in the lungs. I also take about 40 pills per day. I go to the hospital about once a year to get antibiotics on top of quarterly doctors appointments with my CF team,” he said.

While cystic fibrosis is considered a rare disease, it is one of the most common rare diseases.

“[I think] one misconception is that if you have this disease you’re not able to contribute to society — that you’re like sick, bedridden and have to be taken care of constantly. I think people with disabilities and medical conditions have varying perspectives and lots that they can do to help contribute to make the world better,” Greene said.

Greene is looking forward to attending Stanford, meeting new people and serving as a mentor as much as possible. However, he’s most excited to pursue medicine.

“One of the other things I’m passionate about is health policy, so I also hope to get my PhD in public health during medical school. [I want to] be able to help make a difference in terms of helping write health policies that will be able to benefit everyone, [and also] be able to use my perspective as a patient to help other patients make sense of their situation,” he said.

To learn more about Vertex’s scholarship program, visit www.vrtxallincf.com.

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