Colton Margus, 27, is a student at New York Medical College. It was just over a year ago that he decided to take a stand. Well, actually, he didn’t take one so much as he made one. Student Advocates for Neglected Diseases (STAND) is an association for medical students who have an interest in rare diseases. Margus organized the group in honor of some of the rare patients in his own life.

“Two of my three younger brothers suffer from a rare, fatal genetic disorder called Ataxia Telanglectasia (A-T)—the condition combines the worst aspects of muscular dystrophy, cycstic fibrosis, and cancer,” says Margus. “While I have been able to attend college and see the word, the mutation that spared me has confined my brothers to wheelchairs and given them a deteriorating quality of life, robbing the of friends and the potential for living satisfying lives of achievement.”

Notorious for being one of the most over-worked populations in the country, medical students often miss out on some of the rare disease education they’ll need in future years.

“Given the incredible healthcare burden of diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, less common diseases, especially the dauntingly diverse 7,000 rare diseases, are sometimes simplified to symptom, treatment, and prognosis,” says Margus. “While we do get exposure to some of these diseases in our studies, the information provided is often limited to bullet points that inadequately address the realities lived by these patient communities. “

That’s why Colton decided it was time to start recruiting compassion for the rare community. In partnership with Global Genes, he set forth to organize the David R. Cox Prize for Compassion—named after an extraordinary physician scientist, who became Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at UCSF and later Stanford, as well as shepherding development of genomic medicine at Pfizer.


 The 2015 David R. Cox Prize Information and Instructions

With support from Global Genes, Student Advocates for Neglected Diseases (STAND) presents the David R. Cox Prize for Rare Compassion, in recognition of the inspiring essays of student doctors who, like Dr. Cox, have most identified with and understood a rare or neglected patient community they have become close to. Selected submissions will be considered for publication online or in print, and winning authors will additionally receive a certificate and the following cash prizes:

  • 1st Prize $1,500
  • 2nd Prize $1,000
  • 3rd Prize $500

Eligibility and Criteria

First and Second year medical students are invited to submit and essay for this prize. In preparation for a submission for the David R. Cox Prize for Rare Compassion, students in their first or second year of medical school are required to forge a relationship with a patient, family, or advocate affected by a rare or neglected disease in order to write about the experience, or to write about an experience with a patient with a rare or neglected disease that has occurred within the last 12 months.

Essays must be submitted online through the Global Genes website by August 3, 2015.

For help connecting with a person living with a rare disease and to submit an essay, visit


About the Prize
David R. Cox, MD, PhD was an extraordinary physician scientist, becoming Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at UCSF and later Stanford, as well as shepherding development of genomic medicine at Pfizer. In addition to his participation in the Human Genome Project and service on numerous national advisory boards, Dr. Cox showed uncommon compassion in his involvement with advocates for rare diseases. He was especially helpful to the A-T Children’s Project, an organization aiming to cure a rare and debilitating genetic disorder, ataxia telangiectasia (A-T). More here.



Student Advocates for Neglected Diseases (STAND) is a student organization inspiring future clinicians to care about disease communities often neglected by the healthcare system.  Engaging medical schools across the country, STAND connects students with neglected patient groups. STAND was started by Colton Margus, a medical student whose two brothers have a rare neurodegenerative disease.  For more information on STAND or to get involved, please visit or email

3 thoughts on “Global Genes & STAND Announces 2015 Cox Prize For Rare Compassion”

  1. annie achee says:

    This is really a fantastic medical resource advocacy initiative for medical students to be asked to advocate for a rare disease designated medical health issue. Leiomyosarcoma is designated as such in the sarcoma world. Would it be possible to be connected with a medical student – scientist who would help with the study of this particular subtype of sarcoma? If so, could I be contacted at 303 783-0924 or 303 808-3437. I am currently on 3 sarcoma boards. Please respond to me as I appreciate your guidance.

  2. My daughter has Congenital Generalized Lipodystrophy (Agpat2)..This disease occurs in 1 of 10 million. Feel free to contact me if you would like to write about her life or know more information
    It would be my pleasure. Truly Rachel Daniels

  3. Fannie says:

    The voice of ranitoality! Good to hear from you.

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