University of Florida | Journal of U ndergraduate Research | Volume 14, Issue 3 | Summer 2013 1 Meagan Kaufman Featured Scholar Journal of Undergraduate Research Like many of her peers attending medical school Meagan Kaufman realized early that she had a passion for science and medicine. What sets her apart however, is the series of practical steps she undertook since childhood to make sure that working in a health field is really like to do. As a student at premedical middle school and premedical high school she saw patients, made assessments, and learned ab out human anatomy and physiology Later, her research project on the effects of physical activity in boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) Public H ealth and Health Professions rei nforce d her decision to study medicine. When Kaufman was accepted into H onors P rogram and met Dr. Donovan Lott her intention was to do original research and to make herself a more competitive medical school applicant In the beginning stages of her project, Dr. Lott took the time to show her how the lab worked and wha provide a brief introduction to the goals and purposes of their mission and cou ld create a meaningful research Then, Dr. Lott asked her to read the previously published studies on DMD, answering her questions and clarifying along the way, but ultimately allowing Kaufman to work i ndepend ently on her project, formulate her own research questions and design the methodology. As she made her way through other research, she was able to hone in on what really interested her: the effect of acti vity level in muscle pathology. looked up on DMD showed that the more exercise the boys do the more damage to the muscle Kaufman explained. However, if wither away, or atrophy. To date, no exercise guidelines exist for the boys suffering from the rare disorder. Kaufman wanted to look for the for the boys in long term Her results stand apart from the other studies and show that, within m oderation boys who are a little more active have better results in terms of muscle atrophy and MRI results More work needs to be done in order to figure out the exact relationship between activity and muscle pathology in DMD, which also includes finding the optimal activity levels for the boys.
University of Florida | Journal of U ndergraduate Research | Volume 14, Issue 3 | Summer 2013 2 However, even these preliminary findings are promising for the boys and their families. The lab where Kaufman conducted her research is a center for multiple DMD studies overseen by Dr. Krista Vandenborne The children and their parents travel from all over the world to participate in the studies that try to for tracking the progression of dis ease. Now we use T2 access and utilize the data collected by the lab over a two year period Kauffman was able to personally work with children. So what was it like to work with such young s ubjects m ost of whom know that they have a disease that never really gets better? K some of them are almost wheelchair boun d. challenging getting the kids a performing different tests, such work is problematic because the kids get easily distracted and, in in the progr essive stages of the disease, have difficulty walking with children, really good at knowing how to treat them and make sure that they are not fatigued, ing because there is no known cure for the disease and amazing knowing that first experience working with chronically ill childr en, but it does reflect her commitment to community service. For three years, she volunteered at Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, Florida, which offers free weekend retreats for the children and their families, each weekend being themed worked one on one alongside children on the Asthma, Cancer, Heart, Spina bifida, and Craniofacial weekends. Despite bein g in her second year at T he Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University Kaufman still finds the time to volunteer as a mentor in the Health Careers Opportunity Program at the same middle school that first reinforced her decision to study medicine. The program was created to help diverse and underprivileged students gain exposure to various aspects of the medical field and to encourage them to pursue their dreams and goals related to medicine. For example, the participants have an opportunity to visit the college of medicine at FAU, put on gowns and masks, and examine the gross anatomy lab correlation between what they have been learning in their Kaufman says that by working with Dr. Lott she learned to guide these students along their journey in medicine, without carving out their path for them. best wa y to mentor someone; provide them with the knowledge and tools that they need to succeed, and then let them find their own interests and passions to pursue. addition to the mentorship program, Kaufman is the Vice President of The American Medical Women (AMWA), an organization designed to advance women in throughout the world. At AMWA, she works with officers to organize fundraisers ; participate in local health fairs which aid the underserved community ; and serve as a mentor for pre medical undergraduate students at FAU. Despite the breadth of her experiences in a medical f ield, Kaufman is still not sure about her specialization; however, she would like to incorporate research in her career. realized how much grey area there is in all things scientific or medicine related Kaufman says about realize how much more work there is to be done. Anastasia Kozak Background photo courtesy of Dr. Donovan Lott