The ARHP Graduate Student Award, established in 2006, is given annually to outstanding students in recognition of their research and clinical practice projects in the field of rheumatology. With more than 40 applicants from the United States and abroad, the award aims to increase the number of rheumatology health professionals and bring health professional students in close contact with the rheumatology community. The ARHP is honored to recognize its 2011 Graduate Student Award recipients: Jennifer Mei Ping Woo and Andrew Galica.
“My interest in rheumatology was fostered when my mom was diagnosed with lupus 28 years ago; I wanted to help her fight this disease that she had been fighting for so long,” says Jennifer Mei Ping Woo, BS, a student health professional member of the ARHP.
Woo is a public health student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health in Los Angeles and a study coordinator in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) pediatric rheumatology department. “Jennifer is an outstanding researcher because of her passion for her work, collaborative nature, and careful, logical approach,” says her mentor, Deborah McCurdy, MD, clinical professor of pediatric rheumatology at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Woo started working with McCurdy as a researcher in 2008, and has continued to work actively for clinical and biomedical rheumatology research.
“It has been wonderful having Dr. McCurdy as my mentor and has allowed me to run with projects that I have a passion for and develop my interest in the field of rheumatology,” says Woo.
Woo became interested in integrating quality-improvement interventions during her work at the David Geffen School of Medicine. Beyond her routine duties, Woo identified the need to investigate atherosclerosis in lupus patients; therefore, she established collaborations and designed a study investigating interventions to improve medical management and patient experience. She presented her preliminary results at the 2010 ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta.
“My project will be a great contribution to the field of rheumatology. There is such a large opportunity for growth in the rheumatology field, and I encourage other students to research these opportunities,” says Woo.
Andrew Galica is a bioengineer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He works full time at Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL) and Harvard Medical School with his mentor, Marian T. Hannan, DSc, MPH, senior scientist at the HSL Institute for Aging Research and associate professor of medicine at Harvard. “It has been extremely helpful having a mentor, because it has opened my eyes and doors to career options and the basic knowledge of being a researcher,” says Galica.