Julia Solowey ’22

Columbia University Medical School, Department of Neurology, New York, NY

This summer, I was a research assistant in the Department of Neurology at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. My research focused on the impact of using healthcare prior to stroke on stroke risk reduction in young people. We looked at the demographics of patients using different types of healthcare, and then how this healthcare use either did or did not reduce patients’ risk for stroke. Little research is done on stroke in young people (aged 18-65), though stroke in this age group can have devastating effects. This is actually the first study ever to be conducted on this specific topic and it will help public health experts target the right populations with the right information on how to reduce stroke risk through healthcare use!

My role in this study was to sort our data, begin to analyze it, and co-author the paper that will be the final product of our research. We are submitting the paper to an epidemiology conference that will take place in Denver in February. I conducted this internship entirely remotely, using email and Zoom to communicate with my professor. My first step was to read through some introductory epidemiology lectures and the grant materials for this study so that I would have the background information necessary to complete this work. Then, I wrote the introduction to the paper, and compiled our data into tables for effective analysis. I looked through the data for trends that I then I wrote up into a results section for the paper. Near the end of my eight weeks, I found some mistakes in the modeling used to produce our data that may change the specifics of the study’s results. However, our overarching findings remain unchanged: using healthcare before stroke does reduce stroke risk. This means our study will be able to inform public health officials on how to best help young people avoid stroke.

This internship builds on my prior research experience conducting ecology research in the biology department. I am learning more about biology as I learn more about how to research, collaborating in a team, software such as Excel, and the fields of biology and medicine themselves. All of this experience will be endlessly useful as I continue on the pre-med track.

An unexpected benefit of working on epidemiology research was the way in which this field combines biology with political science and economics. I am planning to declare a political science major with a concentration in international relations, and take economics classes on the side for fun. I learned a lot during this internship about how socioeconomic background can influence medical outcomes, building on my previous experience with political science/economics. This new knowledge will also help me in future classes and has made me want to take courses on public health and inequities in healthcare at Williams.

I want to say how grateful I am to the ASIP Public Service Internship for supporting this incredibly fun and valuable experience that will help me in all of my future medical endeavors.