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2003 - 2004 University Scholar
Mentor: John Hall
Warrington College of Business
Since losing a close friend to leukemia in 10th grade, Steven Cohen has been making a
difference in the world. As a USP scholar, he is working to make oral anti-cancer drugs
available to all patients.
A senior majoring in business administration, Cohen is the founder and national chair of
Friends for Life of America, the largest international student organization providing direct
support to pediatric cancer patients and their families. He established the group at his
high school, University School at Nova Southeastern University in Pembroke Pines,
Florida, after a six-year-old friend of the family, Daniel Heidenberg, lost his battle with
leukemia in December 1996. "I think he inspired me to be proactive and make a
difference," Cohen says.
With more than 35 participating schools, including UF and FSU, the organization attempts
to lift the spirits of pediatric patients by giving them teddy bears, sending them cards
during the holidays, and painting cheerful murals in pediatric hospitals. It raises support
for the cause by organizing an annual 5K run and hosting an annual medical forum. "We
do programs like this because I think it is important for the student population to show
that it cares," Cohen says. "My research is all part of a larger goal that I feel very
strongly about that focuses on the impact students can make."
As a University Scholar, Cohen conducted a public policy analysis showing the benefits of
extending oral anti-cancer drugs to patients on Medicare. The US Medicare system does
not currently cover the costs of many lifesaving oral anti-cancer treatments. Cohen's
research analysis shows that the benefits of extending these medications to Medicare
patients outweigh the costs.
"I opened up the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel one day and read about an elderly man in
south Florida who couldn't afford Gleevec, for chronic myelogenous leukemia," he says.
"It's very expensive, and he had to sell all of his personal assets to be able to qualify for
financial assistance so that he could get this lifesaving drug. This is a guy who had
worked all his life and had to get rid of his life savings so that he could afford a drug he
needed to live. That's just not acceptable."
Cohen sent a copy of his analysis to Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, and Sen. Olympia 3.
Snowe, R-Maine, who are proponents of adding an oral anti-cancer provision to current
Medicare coverage. "My research shows that it is really in the government's best interest
to extend these drugs to Medicare patients," he says. "It will actually save money in the
Cohen was recently named one of 20 students nationally to the 2004 College Academic
All-Stars First Team, awarded by USA Today. He and political science major Anup Patel
this year became the first students from the University of Florida ever to win the
prestigious award. Cohen also has been recognized with Governor Jeb Bush's Points of
Light Award and was named the 2001 UF Student Volunteer of the Year.
"Awards are nice," Cohen says. "But I think they serve as motivators. As long as you
don't do it for the recognition, but let the recognition inspire you to do more, then it is all
Cohen has served on the UF Sesquicentennial Committee, the Office of Community
Service's advisory committee, and theWarrington College of Business Administration
Undergraduate Committee. He also has served as an associate justice in the Student
Honor Court, executive vice president of the Jewish student organization Koach, and as
director of honorary members for Golden Key International Honor Society.
During the summer of 2003, Cohen interned at Bank of America in Charlotte, NC. He has
accepted a full-time position with the company and plans to start in July, after graduating
from UF in May. Later, he hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in management and policy
and become a health administrator.
"What I would really like to do is be an administrator at a hospital," he says. "But I don't
want to sit in an office all day. I want to go and visit patients and run a hospital that is
not only profitable, but gives back some of that money to take care of the patients that
can't afford treatment. I want my hospital to be known as the hospital that accepts
patients no matter their financial condition."
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