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Launched in 2019, the MHGA succeeds the MGSAAA in the MRI pathway and encourages graduate students pursing a PhD from historically under-represented minority groups in the United States and Canada to pursue a career in academic hematology. The award provides funding for students to conduct hematology-focused research. It is open to students in their first, second, or third year of graduate school at the time of application.

ASH congratulates five MHGA winners for 2020. This year’s spotlight is on Amanda Llaneza, MPH, who spoke with us about what inspired her to build a career in science and the areas of hematology where she finds continued purpose.

Spotlight

Amanda Llaneza, MPH — University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

When and how did you first become interested in the sciences? What sparked your interest in hematology specifically?

I first became interested in the sciences when I saw the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ as a child. I was enamored with the excitement the scientists displayed over making discoveries and using their skills to solve scientific problems. After that, I dove headfirst into my science classes at school! I became interested in hematology while working with my PhD advisor. Her exciting work as a clinical epidemiologist in the field of hematology bridges quantitative and qualitative methodology focusing on patient-reported outcomes. This is the type of work I am pursuing because I think it is a way to truly understand the needs of patients and improve community health outcomes.

Tell us a bit about your research proposal. What led you toward selecting it?

My research proposal is focusing on primary immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). Specifically, my proposal is evaluating the management of pregnant women with ITP and exploring whether racial disparities exist in ITP when thinking about not only the disease itself, but also the referral pathway. I believe this work is significant because there is a lack of literature regarding management of ITP in pregnancy and there is a lack of literature focused on health disparities in this disease.

What has been the impact of this award thus far in your career?

This award has had such an incredible impact on my career. Not only has it relieved the huge stress of being able to continue to afford my education, it provides me with the opportunity to receive additional training to improve the health and management of hematologic diseases of diverse populations, especially where I am training in Oklahoma.

Anything else you’d like to share with the hematology community?

I think that as researchers, clinicians, and most importantly, advocates for patients, we have to continue to strive for health equity, especially during these trying times. This way we can ensure that every person has the opportunity to achieve their best health.

 

2020 Winners

Marcus Florez — Baylor College of Medicine

Atinuke Dosunmu-Ogunbi — University of Pittsburgh

Florisela Herrejon Chavez — Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Jamie Hamilton — Emory University

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