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Undergraduate Fellows Advance Themselves and Women’s Health

January 25, 2017

In its second year, our undergraduate research training fellowship features three talented and accomplished students eager to work directly with senior faculty members and learn about women’s health and sex and gender differences.

HALEIGH LARSON will spend her time as a WHRY undergraduate fellow broadening her base of knowledge and advancing her science writing.

“I really like to write,” Larson said, adding that she plans to attend medical school in pursuit of an M.D. and a Ph.D.

A junior from Fargo, N.D., Larson spent a summer in high school studying immunology at the National Institute on Aging, where she was invited to return two years later. As a Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry major at Yale, she has worked as a research assistant at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Currently, she also works with Dr. David Schatz to explore the mechanisms of the immune system.

Larson spent the summer at a 10- week fellowship on advancing ways to preserve fertility after cancer therapy at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. Back in New Haven, she expressed enthusiasm for plans to help WHRY increase health literacy through writing articles for a general audience as well as helping to produce entertaining, educational videos and measuring their effect on health behaviors.

“I’m curious about gender differences in science,” Larson said. “I want to be informed and to share that knowledge with others.”

MILANA BOCHKUR DRATVER sees the WHRY undergraduate fellowship as a way to bridge her passions for medicine, psychology, and public health.

“I really want to learn more about sex and gender differences as they relate to health outcomes,” Bochkur Dratver said. “In this mid-point of my time as an undergraduate at Yale, I could not create a better opportunity than this to continue to cultivate and refine my interests.”

A resident of Los Angeles, Bochkur Dratver volunteered and then worked at a lab at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine on projects regarding radiation therapy for glioblastoma multiforme and a new drug for triplenegative breast cancer, a form of the disease that lacks estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.

She currently works with Dr. Clare Flannery in her laboratory in the Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences Department at Yale. In addition, she writes for Yale Scientific magazine, serves on several educational and service-oriented boards and committees, and volunteers at the student-run Haven Free Clinic, motivating and educating patients about health and nutrition.

Bochkur Dratver will work with Dr. Lynn Fiellin at the Yale Center for Health and Learning Games, helping to design and develop videogame interventions and assessments.

“Through my recent lab work, I have found that the content I am most passionate about relates to women’s health,” Bochkur Dratver said. “Not having conducted clinical research in the past, I believe this fellowship can serve as an ideal environment for me to learn more about a field I am very interested in while contributing to an important project.”

ROSE DAVIS is a junior premed student pursuing a degree in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and a career as a surgeon.

For the past three summers, Rose has worked as an intern with a plastic surgeon near her home on Long Island, helping to run the office, organizing and maintaining the Operating Room, and observing surgical procedures. She has cultivated an interest in how the body heals and ages, and developed a strong desire to contribute to cancer research after observing breast reconstruction post mastectomy.

Davis also works as a guide at the Yale Center for British Art and a peer tutor. For a year, she served as Publicity Director for the Groove Dance Company.

As a WHRY undergraduate fellow, Rose will work with Dr. Lisa Freed, Director of Yale New Haven Hospital's Women's Heart and Vascular Program, shadowing work at the clinic and helping to formulate clinical research questions.

She expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to gain new research and clinical insight that can eventually inform her medical career.

“A fuller and more well-rounded understanding of women’s health, will better help me treat, empathize and understand the psychological and physical factors affecting my patients,” Davis said.

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Submitted by Carissa R Violante on January 25, 2017