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Building Momentum: WHRY's Undergraduate Fellows Advance Women's Health

September 26, 2022

Changing medical research and practice is a team effort. Women’s Health Research at Yale mentors undergraduate students as well as graduate students and rising junior faculty members to ensure that the next generation of scientists and medical providers fully account for the health needs of women and sex-and-gender differences affecting health. Here are a few examples of what our former undergraduate fellows are up to now:

Milana Bochkur Dratver, ’18

After graduating from Harvard Medical School in the spring, Milana began a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Inspired by the experiences of her mother and grandmothers navigating the health care system, Milana is the first member of her family to become a doctor.

“I always knew I wanted to practice medicine, but I did not know what area or specialty,” she said. “It is one of the reasons I signed up for the WHRY fellowship. Once I learned about the dearth of attention to women’s health and data on sex-and-gender differences, it became clear to me. There are a lot of questions still to answer.

At medical school, Milana gained a new appreciation for how sex and gender inform health beyond the reproductive system.

“That’s something that medical school curriculums are starting to focus on,” she said. “When I started, the topic of sex and gender in health was covered in a day. Now it gets discussed more holistically.”

At WHRY, Milana worked in the human laboratory of Dr. Lynn Fiellin at the Yale Center for Health and Learning Games, helping to design and develop video game interventions and assessments for adolescents and young adults. At Harvard, she conducted research on gestational diabetes and obesity in pregnancy and would like to continue pursuing research to benefit women.

“In order to be a good clinician, you need to constantly keep up with the latest research,” she said. “I also want to be a part of it — make new discoveries and share them.”

Kaveri Curlin, ’19

After graduation, Kaveri worked as a research assistant fellow at the National Institutes of Health in a laboratory studying the social determinants of obesity. She is now a student at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.

“I am really enjoying my studies and its special concentration learning about health equity and access,” she said. “I often think of my days as a WHRY undergraduate research fellow. I know that participating in the fellowship opened doors for me and allowed me to become the medical student that I am today.”

Kaveri worked with WHRY on our project to integrate a focus on sex and gender into Yale School of Medicine’s curriculum, providing evidence to support conversations with course directors, who have since agreed to address the issue. She presented this work at the 2018 Sex and Gender Health Education Summit in Utah, and the conference’s organizers selected her work as one of the four best submissions. She was also a co-author of a published article on this work.

At UCI School of Medicine, Kaveri is a member of Leadership Education to Advance Diversity – African, Black and Caribbean (LEAD-ABC), a program designed to reduce health disparities among these communities.

Most recently, Kaveri was selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as a Mass Media Fellow, a program to provide hands-on science journalism experience for undergraduate or graduate science students. Kaveri is spending the summer as a health and science reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, seeking to make science more accessible to the general public.

“I care deeply about reducing health disparities in minority communities,” she said. “And I believe that science communication and outreach are two important advocacy tools.”

Submitted by Jessica Quistorff on September 06, 2022