Steven Pervez

A Student’s Successful Battle with Cancer Reveals the Power of Innovation

Steven Pervez, MBS ’21, was diagnosed with stage two, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma six months ago. His personal experience with cancer gives him a unique perspective on translational medicine and healthcare. Last month, he applied to be a student speaker at TEDxKGI, and he emerged out of the student speech competition as one of two winners.

Pervez will share about his personal experience with cancer treatment at TEDxKGI on Feb. 7, 2020*. His talk will focus on Amgen’s small molecule AMG 510 and its unique power to bind with solid tumors, which Pervez explains has been historically hard to accomplish. He wants to share elements of his own cancer story during his talk to provide the audience with a glimpse into the patient experience and a holistic understanding of process and effect.

“Presenting at the qualifying round of the KGI student speech competition felt like closure to me,” said Pervez. “Being able to open up to my classmates was quite the cathartic experience. I am very excited to refine my presentation in preparation for TEDxKGI.”

Pervez came to KGI after completing his undergraduate degree at Cal Poly Pomona as a double major in microbiology and immunological concepts. He says that his undergraduate studies were a challenging and rewarding experience.

He heard about the Master of Business and Science program at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) from a recent KGI graduate. In addition to a full academic and social life at KGI, Pervez is also a graduate student consultant at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Pervez’s own battle with cancer coupled with his educational background in the health sciences allows him a fresh viewpoint on the subjects of cancer drugs and treatment.

Pervez’s professors agree that such a personal healthcare experience is unique and the understanding that comes along with the experience can be a powerful tool for a professional in the biotechnology field.

“Steven brings a very personal perspective to the biotech industry,” said KGI Assistant Professor Travis Schlappi, “as he has experienced the medical side of drugs and devices that KGI trains students to develop and bring to market.”

Pervez’s experience absolutely gave him a different perspective on healthcare, but it also provided him with a new viewpoint on the learning process.

“Missing approximately a month of class,” said Pervez, “I realized there is a tenuous connection we each have between everyday life and experiencing firsthand the accounts you hear about in lecture.”

Although his experience with cancer is recent, he holds it with a sense of lightness, knowledge, and wisdom.

“One thing that I find is special and unique about Steven is his openness and maturity in dealing with his cancer diagnosis and treatment,” said Schlappi. “Having cancer at such a young age is incredibly difficult, but Steven has impressed me with his positive attitude throughout the whole ordeal. He doesn’t shy away from the battle, but openly acknowledges it, doesn’t let it deter his education or career ambitions, and shares his story with others. It is refreshing to be around Steven, and his openness and optimism is infectious.”

Pervez hasn’t let cancer halt his education or career path. Instead, he has let the experience shape his future. He plans to work in Global Operations at Amgen, the company that saved his life. He had the opportunity to visit Amgen’s campus in Thousand Oaks with KGI. He fell in love with the energy of the campus and the drive of the individuals already working there.

KGI is providing Pervez the tools and connections he needs to accomplish his career and life goals.

“The KGI experience thus far has strengthened my resolve to affect my surrounding community.” 

“Clearly, I am concerned with positive clinical outcomes through the translation of scientific study,” said Pervez.

He hopes to improve positive outcomes via scientific discovery and ultimately provide more patients with successful results and a pleasant clinical experience. He understands that not every patient has had an experience similar to his.

“Nowadays, I do not take anything for granted,” said Pervez. “I want to be clear on one point: My experience is certainly not reflective of all patients who have ever suffered from cancer. More than anything, I just feel indecently lucky.”

*TEDxKGI has been rescheduled for 2021