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Medical Student Scholars

The Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence supports four new medical students a year as Bucksbaum Student Scholars.

Maria Ruiz

Maria Ruiz

2020-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Maria completed her undergraduate studies Washington University in St. Louis, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Biology. In college, she developed her passion for working with Latinx communities through her work at Casa de Salud and at Nurses for Newborns. After graduation, María spent a year in Guatemala working with an NGO that promotes health and educational equity for individuals with disabilities. She then embarked her Global Health Corps fellowship at Community Pediatric Programs of Montefiore in the South Bronx, where she worked to facilitate access to medical care and legal services for children and immigrants.

In medical school, Maria was the Chair of the Dean’s Council, serving a liaison between school leadership and the student body. She also served as co-president of the Latinx Medical Student Association. In this role, she supported various COVID-19 relief efforts for Spanish speaking communities in Chicago, and launched an anti-racism reading program for incoming first year medical students. Under the mentorship of Dr. Julie Chor, she is conducting an interview study to understand the experiences of LGBTQ individuals with the first pelvic exam. To honor her service, María was selected as the 2020 Valerie Bowman Jarrett Scholar in Medical Education.

Camron Shirkhodaie

Camron Shirkhodaie

2020-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Camron Shirkhodaie graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University in 2019 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and Medicine, Health and Society and a minor in Chemistry.

At Prtizker, Camron was the co-director of Maria Shelter Free Clinic, where he, along with the rest of free clinic leadership, were able to implement telemedicine to continue seeing patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Camron was also a part of Reach Out and Read, Students for a National Health Program, and Middle Eastern and North African Student Association.

Under the mentorship of Dr. John Blair, Camron conducted research on outcomes of and risk factors associated with patients with concomitant deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism who receive catheter-directed therapy.

Frazer Tessema

Frazer Tessema

2020-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Frazer Tessema graduated from Yale University in 2017 with a BA in History as a premedical student. In college, Frazer researched behavioral psychology at the Yale Decision Neuroscience Lab and translational medicine at the Yale Cardiovascular Research Center.

From 2017-2020, Frazer worked as a research assistant at the Harvard Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL) at Brigham & Women’s Hospital publishing peer-reviewed papers focused on finding solutions to lower prescription drug prices, improving access to pharmaceuticals, and reforming regulatory practice to better patients’ lives. He co-authored 13 papers, including a law review article on the causes of high generic drug prices. From 2017-2020, Frazer also served as a hospice volunteer in the Boston metro-area, playing requested piano music for end-of-life patients. At UChicago, Frazer researches the pathophysiology of microvascular dysfunction in heart failure and health policy initiatives related to sickle cell anemia. Frazer also continues ongoing research with PORTAL.

Nikhil Umesh

Nikhil Umesh

2020-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Nikhil Umesh graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a B.S. in Environmental Health Science and a minor in Chemistry. Prior to joining Pritzker, Nikhil worked as a violence prevention educator and community health researcher, instructing courses in political economy, race, and the history of social movements. In his free time, he enjoys deepening his interest in cooking, gardening, and propagating fruit trees.

Nikhil serves as a Co-Director of the Maria Shelter Clinic, which serves women and children experiencing homelessness on the South Side. He is also a Student Representative on the Pre-Clinical Review Committee, Community Grand Rounds Student Liaison, and a Student Leader of Students for a National Health Program and Chicago Homelessness Health Response Group for Equity.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Tung and Dr. Monica Peek, Nikhil is conducting research on the urban geography of plasma donation centers and their association with race, place, and poverty. He hopes his work will bring greater public awareness to the global supply chain of plasma, where poor, racialized communities have become a central link.

Daniel Ahn

Daniel Ahn

2019-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Daniel Ahn graduated from the University of Chicago in 2018 with a B.S. in biology and a minor in human rights. In 2017, Daniel was a recipient of a summer internship award from the University of Chicago Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. He worked as a researcher at the Hastings Center in Garrison, New York, on access to dialysis among undocumented immigrants with end-stage renal disease.

As a 2019-20 Schweitzer Fellow, Daniel is running a year-long program on gender justice and immigrant youth empowerment for young men of color at the HANA Center. At Pritzker, Daniel serves as president of the Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association and helped organize the University of Chicago’s inaugural Asians in Medicine conference in May 2018, which brought more than 70 medical students and faculty from Chicago. He also served as a mentor for HPREP and participated in the JOURNEES trips to Mississippi and South Dakota.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Milda Saunders, Daniel has conducted research on factors associated with the quality and frequency end-of-life care planning among African American hemodialysis patients.

Chloe Hall

Chloe Hall

2019-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Chloe grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 2011 with a BA in Religion and Creative Writing. After graduation, Chloe spent two years in Indonesia as a Princeton in Asia Fellow at an NGO that fosters peacebuilding in post-conflict communities. In 2013, she returned to New Mexico, where she spent three years working directly with adolescents in schools as a Planned Parenthood sexual health educator and program manager. She completed post-baccalaureate coursework at Bryn Mawr College in 2017. While applying to medical school, she worked as a Medical Assistant at a federally qualified health center in New Mexico.

In medical school, Chloe serves on the board of Chicago Street Medicine, which provides outreach to the Southside’s unsheltered homeless community. She is the Curriculum Director for SHARE, which trains medical students to teach sex ed to adolescents at Woodlawn Charter School. She assisted with writing and research for the Winter 2019 Regenstein Library Special Collections exhibition, The Fetus in Utero. In Summer 2019, she returned home to New Mexico to research pregnant women with opioid use disorder and to study the association between different addiction treatment models, prenatal care access and neonatal health outcomes.

Robert Hight

Robert Hight

2019-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Robert Hight graduated from Emory University with a BS in Biology and a minor in Japanese. He also received his MS in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Tulane University. He was the recipient of both the Gates Millennium Scholarship and the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship which were merit-based awards that covered all of the expenses for both his undergraduate and graduate school degrees. Additionally, he helped co-found an organization, while at Emory, which was dedicated to providing first aid/medical supplies for low-income elementary and middle schools in the Atlanta area.

As a medical student, Robert serves as the Treasurer for Dean’s Council and as a mentorship/community service co-chair for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). Under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel Golden, Robert worked on a research project which sought to examine the dynamic of the doctor-patient relationship in the context of the Electronic Health Records (EHR) system among radiation-oncology physicians as well as work-life balance among those physicians.

Itzel Jazmín López-Hinojosa

Itzel Jazmín López-Hinojosa

2019-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Itzel Jazmín López-Hinojosa graduated cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis in 2017 with a BA in Biochemistry and American Culture Studies. At WashU, Itzel led educational and policy discussions related to health disparities as a peer mental health counselor. In addition, she wrote a thesis exploring the experience of Latinx undergraduates with mental health. After college, Itzel returned to her alma mater, Illinois Math and Science Academy, and served as a residential counselor.

As a 2019 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, Itzel developed healthy eating and exercise curriculum for 3rd and 4th graders, and an empowering and mentorship curriculum for high school girls living in Back of the Yards. At Pritzker, Itzel is the Co-President of the Latino Medical Student Association, a laboratory coordinator for the Community Health Clinic, and the curriculum development chair for the Chicagoland Clinic Consortium. She co-organized both the annual Black and Latina Women in Medicine Forum and the Annual Regional LMSA conference.

This summer Itzel traveled to Peru to provide cervical cancer screenings with REMEDY, a service-learning program. As a Medical Organization for Latino Advancement scholar, she works with Dr. Pilar Ortega to assess a ten-module medical Spanish curriculum for clinical interviews and physical exams using pre- and post- assessments. She is currently working with Dr. Elizabeth Tung to understand the lived experience of Spanish speaking immigrants with violent political rhetoric and its implications on health.

Russell Simons

Russell Simons

2018-2021 Student Scholar

Bio

Russell Simons graduated magna cum laude from Boston College with a B.S. in biology and a minor in medical humanities. At Boston College, he was a recipient of the Gabelli Presidential Scholarship, a four-year merit-based award, and served as president of the student body.

As a medical student, Russell is co-coordinator of CommunityHealth Clinic, which provides medical care free-of-charge to uninsured Chicagoans on the city’s west side. He is co-founder and co-leader of Pritzker Humanities & Medicine, which hosts events for medical students that explore the connections between the humanities and clinical caregiving. Following his first year at Pritzker, Russell was a recipient of the University of Chicago Pozen Family Center for Human Rights’ summer internship award. He subsequently worked as a researcher at Human Rights Watch in New York City where he helped investigate human rights abuses related to the opioid epidemic, the development of universal health coverage systems, and HIV/AIDS care for transgender men and women.

Abena Appah-Sampong, MD

Abena Appah-Sampong, MD

2018–2019 STUDENT SCHOLAR – ALUMNI

Bio

Abena Appah-Sampong graduated with honors from the University of Chicago in 2016 with a BA in Public Policy and Biology. As an undergraduate, Abena volunteered childcare and tutoring services at the Maria Shelter. After college, Abena completed a public interest fellowship at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, where she worked to build infrastructure implementing the health system’s strategic plan and conducted analyses advocating for the addition of bilingual nursing staff.

As a medical student, Abena is the co-director of the Maria Shelter clinic and serves on the Wellness committee. She co-organized a conference for Black and Latina Women in Medicine in the Chicagoland area and was also as a mentor for HPREP, a healthcare pipeline program for underrepresented minorities. She is also working with Dr. Neda Laiteerpong to forecast future racial disparities in diabetes complications using simulation modeling.

Dr. Appah-Sampong is currently a surgical resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.