LEXINGTON, Ky.—Prya Murad readily admits she has a “dorky” interest in biology. She also owns up to having an argumentative nature and a tendency to talk too much, and when asked to describe herself, the Transylvania University sophomore is likely to tell you she’s part control freak, part hippie. And that’s just for starters.
Murad, a native of Pakistan, is indeed a multifaceted young woman. But she has long had a single-minded goal: to make a difference in the world. Specifically, she wants to tackle some of the ethical issues surrounding the field of genetics. Murad takes a step toward that lofty goal March 13 and 14 when she joins an elite group of college students at the National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference at Harvard University in Boston.
“I’m pumped,” she exclaimed. “It’s really cool to talk to people who are so energized about these issues.”
The biology and philosophy double major is one of only 25 to 30 student presenters at the conference, an annual gathering of students and experts in the field of bioethics. It’s sponsored by the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities.
Murad’s presentation will be on a subject she believes often gets overlooked in a world where bioethical issues abound. Titled “Cheap Labor: The International Commercial Surrogacy Market,” the presentation will focus on the trend of women in first-world countries to hire surrogates in second- and third-world countries to carry their babies – a practice often called “wombs for rent.”
Murad became interested in commercial surrogacy after a discussion in a required Fundamentals of Liberal Arts class at Transylvania. She began researching the topic and learned about the growing surrogacy market in India, where the fee charged for carrying another woman’s baby is one-third of that charged in countries such as the United States.
“It’s a dangerous game,” Murad said. “At the end of the day, that child is a product.”
Attending the Harvard conference is not the first such experience for Murad, who moved to Lexington with her physician parents and attended Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School. Following her first year at Transylvania, she was selected to attend a summer internship in bioethics at Yale University with other top students from around the world.
Although her academic and intellectual pursuits keep her busy, Murad is also active in other college organizations, including Alpha Omicron Pi social sorority and Phi Alpha Delta pre-law honorary society. She serves on Transy’s Student Government Association, as well.