D.C. trip gives Pine-Richland junior glimpse of medicine's future

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

A Pine-Richland High School junior joined an elite group of high school students in the nation's capital this month to learn from the best and the brightest in medicine.

Austin Goncz, 17, of Pine, attended the Congress of Future Medical Leaders on Feb. 14 to 16 in Washington.

The invitation-only congress was for high school students with an interest in becoming physicians or entering the field of medical research.

As the son of two anesthesiologists, Goncz has a strong interest in medicine, as well as in technology and physics, but isn't sure yet which path to pursue.

“I've always been interested in medical professions, and this seemed like a good opportunity to learn more about them,” he said.

Along with his parents, Gray and Wende Goncz, Austin joined 3,500 other like-minded students from across the nation to hear Nobel Laureates, National Medal of Science winners and child prodigies talk about the latest in medical research and the future of medical technology.

“The quality of the lectures was just outstanding,” Wende Goncz said. “There was a minimum of about 1,000 kids there and you could hear a pin drop.”

In a weekend full of inspiring and thought-provoking discussions, Austin Goncz was most taken by a lecture on future integration of technology into medicine given by Peter Diamandis, CEO of X Prize Foundation.

Austin said Diamandis suggested that in the future, robotics and technology will play a larger role in preventative care, allowing for less guesswork and more timely and accurate diagnoses.

“You won't necessarily need to go to the doctor,” Austin Goncz said. “It will be more like a small robotic chip in our bodies that will be able to, for example, detect increased levels of a certain protein and tell us we need to check it out. That's really what I was impressed by.”

Goncz was nominated by Dr. Connie Mariano, the medical director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, to represent Pennsylvania based on his academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine.

“This is a crucial time in America when we need more doctors and medical scientists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” said Richard Rossi, executive director for the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists. “Focused, bright and determined students like Austin Goncz are our future and he deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give him.”

At Pine-Richland High School, Goncz stays busy as a member of the varsity football team, lacrosse team and National Honor Society. He also volunteers as a peer tutor.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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