Star Athlete Sets Sights on Medical Career

Andin Fosam headshot wearing gray zip-front sweatshirt with Pitt script logoAndin Fosam thinks of the hammer throw — a track and field event — as a choreographed dance.

“Every single step requires a synchronized series of movements that are practiced incessantly. Yet, when you do it exactly as you’ve been coached, as you’ve rehearsed, it looks so smooth and so natural,” said Fosam, who broke the record for the University of Pittsburgh’s women’s hammer throw and was named a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All-American — signifying her place as one of the best college athletes in the nation — in 2017.

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The hammer throw has played a major role in the graduating senior’s Pitt experience. Earlier this year, Fosam placed fourth in the competition at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championships, earning her a spot on the women’s All-ACC Second Team for the second consecutive year. In 2017, she qualified for the NCAA Championships, becoming Pitt’s first female thrower to compete at that national competition in more than a decade. A three-time First National Bank Female Athlete of the Week designee, Fosam has qualified for the ACC Championships each year of her collegiate career and has won countless throwing competitions against some of the best in the country.

“I give 100 percent of myself to every challenge I take on,” said Fosam, an aspiring physician-scientist, graduating later this month with dual degrees in biology and history and philosophy of science. She plans to focus her career pursuits on exploring the relationships among physical activity, metabolism and various health conditions such as diabetes and obesity. “Whether it be the hammer throw or medical school, I’m committed to being the best that I can be, and I’ve dedicated myself to being a great athlete and a scholar at this university.”

A Dean’s List designee every year of her Pitt enrollment, Fosam’s excellence extends far beyond the track field. She has twice been recognized on the All-ACC Academic Team. Pitt most recently honored her with the Blue-Gold Award, which recognizes two student-athletes each year for their academic scholarship, athletic achievement, citizenship and leadership and memorializes the achievement with an inscription on the Varsity Walk outside the Cathedral of Learning. The University also has awarded her the Chancellor's Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Hesselbein Global Leadership Fellowship and the Heart of the Panther Award. Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher selected Fosam as a student-athlete representative on the Athletic Director Search Committee, a national search resulting in the hiring of Heather Lyke in March 2017.

In her spare time, Fosam is a member of the national leadership honor societies Omicron Delta Kappa and Sigma Alpha Lambda. She also is involved with the Blue and Gold Society and Scientists, Mathematicians, and Engineers for Service, a community engagement organization co-founded by Pitt alumnus Ohiremen Dibua in 2011. Additionally, she volunteers within the intensive care and trauma units of UPMC’s Presbyterian and Montefiore hospitals.

Andin Fosam in Pitt athletics uniform in mid-hammer throwFosam credits her work ethic to her parents, two natives of West African nations who relocated to the United Kingdom for career opportunities in the 1980s. She and her two siblings were raised in the suburbs just south of London before moving to Robbinsville, New Jersey, in 2002. It was in her U.S. hometown where she discovered her loves for both athletics and science that eventually led her to Pitt.

Under the guidance of School of Medicine professor Erin E. Kershaw, Fosam has earned major research grants from such notable organizations as the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association. Kershaw envisions a bright future for Fosam.

“Given her sense of drive, her intellect, her genuine curiosity towards health research, and her ability to connect with people in very profound ways, I think the sky is the absolute limit for how far Andin can go as a health scientist,” said Kershaw, the chief of the medical school’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, who has served as a mentor to Fosam since her freshman year. “She is such a quality, genuine human being, who I hold in the highest regard as both a colleague and a friend. I think she has the potential to reach a lot of people through her work.”

In her immediate future, Fosam plans to take two “gap years” before entering medical school. She recently accepted a post-baccalaureate research position at the Clinical Endocrinology Lab of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She said her collegiate athletics career has given her uncommon insights on how the body works and she plans to use that insider knowledge for the betterment of society.

“My time at Pitt has been an amazing experience, and now I’m looking forward to focusing on new challenges,” said Fosam. “As an athlete, you become inherently aware of how your body reacts to the foods you eat as well as the physical and molecular stress you induce during training, especially when I’m pushing my body to its limit. I think that’s incredibly fascinating and I’m looking forward to a career studying this area of research.”