Meet All in for CF Scholarship Recipient Jacob Greene

Bringing the patient perspective to the lab and the clinic 

Growing up with cystic fibrosis, Jacob Greene had his fair share of hospital stays and doctors appointments. But in his early teens, during one of those long, drawn-out stretches waiting in an exam room, he came to a realization—he had never met a single caregiver living with a chronic disease like CF. And that troubled him.

“The doctors and nurses I worked with, they didn’t understand what it was like for me as a patient,” said Jacob, 18, of Bellevue, Washington, who was awarded a Vertex All in for CF Scholarship. “There is this perception that people with disabilities, like cancer or CF, aren’t expected to contribute. That we’re just supposed to sit on the sidelines.”

In case you were wondering, Jacob Greene — your average Eagle Scout, robotics whiz, track star — isn’t one to sit on the sidelines.

“If a person isn’t physically able to do a certain thing, that’s understandable,” said Jacob. “But I wanted to show people that having a disease like CF shouldn’t stop them from pursuing their goals and trying to make a difference.”

Jacob started doing what he knew best—sharing his story about growing up with CF with others. Today, Jacob visits hospitals across the country, talking to the parents of children recently diagnosed with CF.

“I talk about what it’s like to grow up with CF, how to deal with doctors, and the parent-patient dynamic,” he said. In 2016, Jacob spoke at the National American Cystic Fibrosis Conference in Orlando. This summer, he shared his story at a CF event in England.

But Jacob doesn’t limit himself to public speaking and advocacy. Like a growing number of people with CF, Jacob is also exploring more direct ways to get involved in the mission to research and develop treatments.

Last summer, Jacob applied his passion for biology into a summer internship screening cancer drugs at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In one experiment, Jacob witnessed how a single chemical compound was able to destroy 85% of the cancer cells in one sample.

“I realized at that moment, cancer wasn’t some invincible beast—we could kill it and help people survive,” says Jacob. “It showed me that research really can make a difference in peoples’ lives—and cystic fibrosis is a perfect example.”

This fall, Jacob begins his freshman year at Stanford University, but he’s already looking to the future. “I definitely want to pursue medical school, but I’m still not sure where in medicine I want to be just yet,” said Jacob, who is majoring in biomedical computation. “I think it would be cool to do research or work with patients. Maybe both.”

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