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Amazing student: Anita Qualls

Alan Flurry

Amazing biology student and Regenerative Bioscience Fellow Anita Qualls works hard in the lab in preparation for a career in academic medicine:

After sophomore year, I spent eight weeks at Harvard Medical School as a research intern for Dr. Pankaj Agrawal at Boston Children’s Hospital. I collaborated with Harvard physicians at the Manton Center for Rare and Orphan Disease to write three pediatric clinical case papers on rare genetic disease and novel treatment methods. While I faced a steep learning curve of interpreting genetic testing and describing biochemical pathways that I had not yet studied in a classroom, I worked through the medical jargon and stacks of clinical papers to gain a comprehensive understanding of each patient’s case. The day-to-day responsibilities of my internship included utilizing patient data to create graphs, writing case summaries, dissecting DNA sequencing results with genetic counselors, gathering edits from physicians, and analyzing related research papers.

This past summer, I was selected as part of the New York University Summer Undergraduate Research Program. For nine weeks, I conducted research with Dr. William Carroll, a leading expert in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), at Perlmutter Cancer Research Center. Dr. Carroll’s laboratory focuses on understanding the biological pathways that drive drug resistance in ALL. By contributing to pediatric oncology research, I was working to identify unique mechanisms of cancer cell resistance that can serve as a target for more effective, less toxic treatment.

After volunteering in local elementary schools throughout freshman year, I met with three friends to discuss how we could mitigate the lack of child health education we observed. Together, we founded Health for Kids (H4K) to connect Athens youth with UGA students who deliver health education resources and encourage the children to actively pursue a healthy lifestyle. As president, I coordinated our executive team’s push to build relationships with the students and staff at Oglethorpe Elementary via afterschool events. We raised awareness of a specific health topic at each meeting, hosted a speaker, and concluded with small group lesson planning to be implemented in the afterschool program.

From the Honors Medicine in Literature Book Club to her two study abroad experiences, Qualls is getting the best-most out of her UGA experience. Fantastic student with a great vision for what she wants to do. 

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