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Science + economics

Fall 2019

Connor Bloom ’19 wanted to go big for his senior thesis. A science management major at CMC, he had been thinking about applying science and economics to genetic testing in the health care market. What will happen when the majority of Americans start to get tested as part of a routine doctor’s visit? How will that change how people can access information about potentially at-risk outcomes? What will it mean for disease development down the road?

Asking those big questions became too massive (and hypothetical) for a single project. So with the help of John Spinosa ’80 at the San Diego Blood Bank, Bloom was able to find a starting point for his yearlong thesis. Spinosa’s challenge for him: Can genetic technology predict what’s on the surface of red cells, the place where many adverse reactions happen? If matches could be made easier and with more accuracy, donors with rare blood types might be able to find units faster through a database rather than by conducting time-intensive tests. It would not only be safer for those in need of blood; it would reduce costs.

“The great thing about Connor is that he not only understood the science of why we wanted this, but he also had the economic discipline to put it into a framework—why and how it all matters,” Spinosa said.

During the summer of 2018, Bloom spent six weeks at the blood bank looking at financial documents to determine the economic feasibility of whole blood system genotyping. Spinosa even let Bloom stay in a spare room at his home to help save money. Bloom immediately felt at ease in the San Diego wetlab because of his hands-on science learning in CMC classes. The fusion of corporate finance and genetics allowed him to craft a thesis, that with more time and resources, could end up being part of truly cutting-edge research for the blood bank.

“At CMC, I had a lot of practice synthesizing information and figuring out what is actually useful for the research,” Bloom said. “My major was specifically designed for the blood bank project. If I went to any other school, I don’t think I would have had the skills or confidence to take it on.”

Read Connor Bloom’s thesis at Scholarship @ Claremont

Thomas Rozwadowski