Fourteen undergraduate students interested in medicine from universities across the country had the chance on Monday to sit down with University of Colorado School of Medicine Dean John J. Reilly Jr. talk about the future of medicine.
The students are on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus this summer for Colorado Undergraduate Summer Program (CUSP), an annual event, now in its 12th year, that brings students – many from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine – to the CU School of Medicine to learn about biomedical research and careers in the medical field. CUSP is once again welcoming students after taking a break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Undergraduate students attend daily interactive lectures where they learn about conducting research, research ethics, statistics, publishing articles, preparing grants, applying to professional school , resume preparation and careers in biomedical research, medicine and the health professions. The program also gives students the opportunity to visit and learn about various campus-affiliated departments, centers, programs, and hospitals, including the emergency medicine service, the Colorado Assessment Practitioner Center (CAPE), which includes the robotic instruction and evaluation, the Visible Human Project, Neonatal Intensive Care Units at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Radiology Teaching Unit, and the Colorado Career Counseling Center.
“The idea was to bring in young people and give them an interest in medicine and medical research early in their careers,” said the CUSP founder. John E. Repin, MD, director of the Webb-Waring Center and professor of medicine. Repine emphasized the importance of the CUSP noting that “most people who end up being career scientists or physician-scientists started early.” Repine has secured ongoing funding from the NIH, select colleges, and generous donors to support CUSP.
a long way to go
Reilly shared with the students his own journey to medicine, noting that science and patient care have improved dramatically since 1981, when he was a pulmonology fellow in Boston caring for AIDS patients. At that time, Reilly said, AIDS seemed like a scourge that would devastate the world, but today, if AIDS patients take their medication, their life expectancy is normal. And while the dawn of personalized medicine and big data is influencing exciting advances in the world of medicine, he said, there is still a long way to go to ensure equal access to healthcare for all.
“In 2022 in the United States of America, your zip code is a better predictor of your health and life expectancy than your genetic code,” he said. “We have to approach this as a society.”
Daniel Ridley, a senior at the University of Washington, said he appreciates hearing someone in a position like Reilly’s talk about the social determinants of health and what doctors can do to address them.
“That’s what really interests me. That’s the main reason I wanted to go into medicine, and hear [Dean Reilly] talking about it was like a hundred bucks just fell in my lap,” Ridley said. “I’ve always been very interested in the intersection of public health and politics and politics, and how we can improve that, and it was great to hear about that from someone who does it like his bread and butter.”
The CUSP also assigns each participating student a research mentor with whom they work on a project during the 10-week program. At the end of the session, students create a poster that explains their research program and its results. Students participate in research on conditions such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, and chronic kidney disease.
“I have a great mentor, and being able to contribute to something bigger than me is an amazing experience,” said Katie Berrian, a junior from Creighton University, adding that she was interested in CUSP because it gave her given the opportunity to get more insight. in the doctor-patient relationship.
“Dr. Repine has been amazing in teaching us how to analyze patients from a doctor’s perspective and how to improve our care, build relationships and build trust,” she said.