UW News

April 6, 2011

Six UW students named 2011 Magnuson Scholars in the health sciences

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

The UW has named six students from the health sciences schools as 2011 Magnuson Scholars, one of the highest awards given annually by the University.

The awardees this year are: Alisa Becker, School of Medicine; Karen Tabb Dina, School of Social Work; Margaret “Mollie” Hogan, School of Public Health; Kajohnkiart Janebodini, School of Dentistry; Nora Lee, School of Pharmacy; and M. Rebecca OConnor, School of Nursing.

The UW selects six Magnuson Scholars each year, one from each of the six UW health sciences schools. The Magnuson Scholars are chosen for their academic performance and potential contributions to research in the health sciences.

The Magnuson Scholar program was named after the late Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, noted for efforts to improve the nation's health.

Here are this years Magnuson Scholars:

Alisa Becker (Medicine): Alisa, a third-year medical student, grew up in East Wenatchee, Wash. In 2006, she graduated from the UW honors program with a Bachelor of Science degree in neurobiology. As an undergraduate, she participated in research in the reproductive endocrinology labs of Robert Steiner and Donald Clifton. There she studied connections between the brain, hormones, and metabolism. When she was a college senior, she became interested in community health. A fellowship with the Multidisciplinary International Research Training program led her to rural Chili to investigate local barriers to health care. She is a member of Al-Shifa, a student-run organization that seeks to bring health services and education to Seattles underserved populations. Alisa is also interested in diabetes education and research as a result of her diagnosis with type 1 diabetes when she was 17. Her career goals as an adult medicine specialist are managing chronic diseases and advocating for people with diabetes.

Karen Tabb Dina (Social Work): Karen is a doctoral student in the School of Social Work. Originally from Ann Arbor, Mich., received her masters degree in social work, with a concentration in social policy and evaluation, from the University of Michigan. She worked at Case Western Reserve Center for Reducing Health Disparities in Cleveland, Ohio, as a community research coordinator before moving to Seattle in 2008. She is a 2009-2011 National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Clinical Translation of Research Trainee as well as a Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology Fellow. Her research interests include racial and ethnic health care disparities, racial categorization, multiracial populations, discrimination, and community health. Karen is currently working on a longitudinal project to assess the prevalance of major depression, anxiety disorder, and suicide ideation during pregnancy, and determining the role of these conditions in adverse birth outcomes.

Mollie Hogan (Public Health): Mollie is a doctoral student in the School of Public Health. A native of New Hampshire, Mollie became interested in health while an undergraduate at Harvard University. After graduating, she spent six years overseas in Geneva, Switzerland, and Bangkok, Thailand, where she worked in health measurement. Mollies dissertation, which examines maternal mortality worldwide, is preparing her for a career in applied global health. After she completes her doctorate, she feels she will be well-equipped to improve monitoring and evaluation at all levels of health care delivery and outcomes. Mollie hopes to pursue an academic career while working closely with an international organization, such as PATH or Family Health International. She hopes to play a leadership role on collaborative projects with ministries of health in low- and middle-income countries.

Kajohnkiart Janebodini (Dentistry). Kajohnkiart, a graduate student in oral biology in the School of Dentistry, was born in Bangkok, Thailand. He received a doctor of dental surgery degree with honors in 2003 from the Faculty of Dentistry, Mahidol University in Bangkok. His love of teaching inspired him to stay on at Mahidol as an instructor in the Department of Anatomy. He also practiced general dentistry before accepting the King Anadamahido Scholarship in 2007 to study abroad. In 2008, he began researcj at the UW Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. He is interested in the developmental biology of teeth and dental pulp. He studies the origin, nature and plasticity of stem cells in this part of the body in the hopes of using such cells effectively and appropriately in clinical applications. After finishing his doctorate, he intends to broaden his skills in regenerative medicine research in a postdoctoral position. He plans to return to Mahidol University as an academician and continue his work on craniofacial regeneration.

Nora Lee (Pharmacy): Nora is in her third year of studies toward a Ph.D. in the Department of Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy. Nora received her B.S. in biomedical engineering from Case Western University. She works as a graduate research assistant in Associate Professor Joanne Wangs laboratory. She joined Wangs research group in 2009. For her thesis, she is investigating the influence of kidney, liver and placental organic cation transporters (which move positively charged particles) in maternal disposition and fetal exposure to metformin – an oral anti-diabetic agent. The results of her research will improve understanding of how drug disposition changes during pregnancy. This knowledge is critical for optimizing the drug selection, dosage, efficacy, and safety of anti-diabetic medications. Ultimately, her research could impact treatment options for women with gestational diabetes.

Rebecca OConnor (Nursing): Rebecca is pursuing a doctorate in nursing science. She has worked in healthcare for more than 10 years, including seven years as a registered nurse. She earned a B.A. in philosophy from the UW and a B.S. in nursing from New York University, where she was a Rudin, Hillman, and Honors scholar. Currently Rebecca is an ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Fellow and a pre-doctoral Fellow on a Biobehavioral Nursing Training grant sponsored by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the NIH. She also works part-time as a research nurse coordinator in the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Seattle Childrens. Her research is on how type 1 diabetes affects East African youth. She is looking at ethnic differences and is considering genetic and environmental factors in the development of diabetes.