UW News

February 26, 2004

Magnuson Scholars and their projects

Six graduate students, one from each health sciences school, are working on projects as Magnuson Scholars for the 2003-2004 academic year. Each of the students receives approximately $25,000 to support graduate studies and research.

The late Senator Warren G. Magnuson, in whose name the program was established, was committed to improving the nation’s health through biomedical research and was instrumental in establishing the National Institutes of Health, Medicare and Medicaid during his long career in the senate.

The Magnuson Scholars are selected on the basis of their academic performance and their potential contributions to research in the health sciences.

The scholars program is part of the Warren G. Magnuson Institute for Biomedical Research and Health Professional Training, established in 1991 in honor of the late senator. Support for the Institute comes from two grants totaling nearly $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education, matching funds of $500,000 from the State of Washington, and more than $569,000 in donated funds.

The income from the endowment is used for research about diabetes and other diseases, to support students in graduate or postgraduate health professions training programs, and to fund the Warren and Jermaine Magnuson Chair in Medicine for Neurosciences, held by Dr. Bruce Ransom, chair of the Department of Neurology.

This year’s Magnuson Scholars:

Dr. Douglas R. Dixon, from the School of Dentistry — Dixon, who is an officer in the U.S. Army, came to the UW to earn a master’s degree and certificate in periodontics, which he received in 2001. He is now completing a doctoral research project for a Ph.D. in oral biology. He earned his dentistry degree from the University of Pittsburgh, completed a residency in general dentistry, and was stationed in Germany for three years with the Army. His research is investigating the role of native bacteria in the mouth and their contribution to a “ready state” of innate immune cells within a healthy periodontium, or gum tissue. He is married and has two children.

Thy P. Do, from the School of Pharmacy — Do, who already holds a master’s degree in chemistry and another in public health, came to Seattle from the East Coast in 2000 to enter the doctoral program in Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy. His dissertation research focuses on patterns of population-based medication use among diabetics. He is particularly studying patients with diabetes who discontinue medication and the effects on development of diabetic complications and use of health-care services. Before he earned the degree in public health, Do had worked with homeless youth in New York City, focusing on HIV/STD education and prevention. His hobbies include rowing with Lake Union Crew and hiking.

Scott N. Isenhath, from the School of Medicine — Isenhath is a senior medical student who is working on dermatology research this year in the laboratory of Dr. John Olerud, head of the Division of Dermatology. Isenhath is investigating methods that will promote skin attachment to biomaterials, with the hope of developing ways to prevent infections associated with ports and catheters used for dialysis and access to blood vessels. He grew up in Kenmore and earned a degree in chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University before entering medical school. He is married and enjoys running, swimming and attending Husky football and basketball games.

Public Health
Samir N. Kelada, from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine — Kelada, originally from Chicago, came to the UW after earning a bachelor’s degree and a master of public health degree from the University of Michigan. He is now a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, working on research exploring gene-environment interactions in Parkinson’s disease. He hopes that combining insights from environmental health, epidemiology and genetics will lead to better understanding of this and related diseases. He enjoys Seattle views, cycling and coffee.

Social Work
Susan L. Neely-Barnes, from the School of Social Work — Neely-Barnes is a doctoral candidate who is completing a Maternal and Child Health Bureau traineeship at the UW’s Center for Human Development and Disability. She earned a master of social work degree from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis in 1999 and has worked as a service coordinator for children and adults with developmental disabilities. She has also worked with children who have autism. Her research focuses on social work practice with people who have developmental disabilities, especially how paradigms of disability shape intervention and research, how social welfare policies define disability as a problem for intervention, and empowerment of people with developmental disabilities. She is married and a mother.

Mary R. Taylor, from the School of Nursing — Taylor was born in Mississippi where her parents were working as social workers in a community health research project, grew up in Wisconsin, and earned her first bachelor’s degree at Macalester College. After moving to Seattle, she worked at an adult daytime health program and learned about the difficulty in managing type 2 diabetes. As a result, she decided to return to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She is now in the doctoral program and focusing on primary and secondary prevention of type 2 diabetes as she develops her own dissertation topic. She enjoys gardening, traveling and hiking with friends.