AN Erskine doctor who has been working on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic has earned a prestigious award after writing an essay about overcoming adversary.

Dr Billy Dunn, 28, is one of the winners in this year’s Lasker Essay Contest, which invites young scientists around the world to discuss big questions in biomedical research and policy.

In his essay, titled ‘Sweet are the uses of adversity,’ he describes how as a school pupil he was inspired by the achievements of Stephen Hawking, despite the many hardships the famous physicist faced throughout his life.

Billy told The Gazette: “It was a very nice surprise to be one of the winners.

“At the time I wrote the essay, it was the middle of the pandemic and it was a scary time to be working for the NHS, so I wanted to make use of the adverse circumstances and make something good out to it.”

The former Park Mains High student describes in his essay how his mum Vanessa received the final operation in her treatment for bowel cancer and his dad Billy Sr. suffered a heart attack within days of each other during his fifth year exams, the results of which would determine whether he would get into medical school.

However, Billy went on to be the Dux of Park Mains High in 2008 and now has three degrees with honours from the University of Glasgow.

Earlier in the coronavirus crisis, he was treating patients in the Covid-19 wards at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, as an academic clinical fellow but is now working in the oncology ward.

Reflecting on his school days, Billy said: “It was obviously a difficult period when my parents were ill but I think it set me up for a career in medicine because these stressful events happen quite a lot and it was a factor in making me want to work in cancer research.”

Billy hopes to become a clinician-scientist in malignant haematology, which would allow him to carry out further research on the prevention and treatment of leukaemia and other blood cancers.

His winning essay earned him $2,000, which he will put towards his research projects, and he has also been invited to attend next year’s Lasker Awards Luncheon in New York.

To read Billy’s essay, visit

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