September 16, 2019

A Future in Biomedical Engineering

Jacob Feitelberg, 18
High School: Shalhevet High School
Going to: Johns Hopkins University

Jacob Feitelberg has been incredibly busy for the past four years at Shalhevet High School. He studied hard, earning a National Merit Commended Student award, was one of the founders of the school’s robotics team, served as editor-in-chief of The Boiling Point school newspaper, played the violin in the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra and sang in the Shalhevet Choirhawks. 

But what Feitelberg has enjoyed the most, and what he hopes to devote his life to, is biomedical engineering, which he will study this fall at Johns Hopkins University. 

“I just want to help people live longer,” Feitelberg said, in a phone interview with the Journal. 

Feitelberg plans to pursue tissue engineering, which involves replacing or mending damaged tissue and organs with those created in a lab. 

“Your organs fail when you get cancer and disease, or just when you become older,” Feitelberg said. “Using a healthy organ to replace it is going to be a lot better for you. There are so many people waiting for donor organs, and there is no real clear way to get these organs other than someone dying in a car accident and happening to be a donor. Theoretically, if you could get [new organs] from your same cells, it’d be a lot better.”

“My family doesn’t come from a science background so I had to push to find it where I could.”

This past summer, Feitelberg participated in a bio lab program for high school students called Pathways to Stem Cell Science at UCLA. He spent eight weeks working on a small device that expands and contracts based on its temperature. Although it’s currently being used for purely research purposes, the device attempts to mimic how the lungs also expand and contract. 

Looking back on his experience in the bio lab, Feitelberg said, “It was one of the best summers I ever had.”

Though Feitelberg also is interested in the arts — he’s been playing violin since he was 8 and sang in the Choirhawks in 10th and 11th grade — both took a backseat this year because he was co-captain of the robotics team and editing The Boiling Point. While at the paper, he won a National Quill & Scroll Award, as well as a 2017 first prize in News & Feature Writing on Current Events Involving Israel award from the Jewish Scholastic Press Association, for his Shimon Peres obituary.  

Feitelberg is excited to go to Hopkins next year, where he will take some music theory classes, but mostly will focus on his biomedical research. “I’m looking forward to having a lot more opportunities for research, which is what I want to do. My family doesn’t come from a science background so I had to push to find it where I could. I’m going to get to pursue what I want, and I hope to help many people.”