Danielle Rossell, a second-year medical student, is the first student selected for the UICOMR’s Underrepresented in Medicine Student Research Program.

Danielle Rossell

Danielle Rossell

This program provides medical students from groups who are underrepresented in medicine an opportunity to engage in a research project under the mentorship of experienced researchers and principal investigators.

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, underrepresented in medicine means those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population and includes students who identify as African Americans and/or Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American (American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), Pacific Islander, and mainland Puerto Rican. The definition also refers to students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Each year, one UICOMR medical student is selected for the program, which provides up to $2,500 in funding for the duration of the student’s project in basic science, clinical, community or translational research.

The UICOMR Underrepresented in Medicine Student Research Program is a 1.5- to 3-year research program aimed at stimulating and encouraging underrepresented individuals’ interest in research and scholarship. The program is made possible by the generous contribution of UICOMR alumna Marygrace Elson, MD, MME, FACOG, and funded via the Marygrace Elson, MD ’82 Catalyst Fund.

“I am honored to have been chosen as a student researcher in the Underrepresented in Medicine Student Research Program,” says Rossell. “This program is a great example of how far medicine and medical education has grown and changed for the better with diversity and inclusivity in mind. With my Hispanic background and with this research opportunity, I hope to further this change and aid in the growth of this program to provide more opportunities for the celebrated students who are underrepresented in medicine.”

Rossell was selected for the development and implementation of her proposed research project, Serum CD30 and its Relationship to Breast Implant Illness. Her application and research proposal was reviewed by members of the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford Campus Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and reviewers noted her project was novel and has the potential to yield promising findings to address breast implant illness.

She will complete her research project under faculty advisement of Samuel Pope, PhD, clinical associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences Education, and Landon Pryor, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Surgery and Surgical Specialties who is a plastic surgeon at Pryor Health in Rockford. She will also have a research advisor from the Department of Family and Community Medicine’s Division of Health Research and Evaluation to help further develop and implement her research project. She also will receive mentorship on research methodology, statistics, working with human subjects, and career mentorship from alumni.

“This program provides a unique space in which Danielle can be creative and incorporate her individual and cultural perspectives as she further designs and implements a project that has important clinical implications for the care of women experiencing breast implant illness,” says Alesia Jones, PhD, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, who is leading the program. “We are excited to mentor Danielle and provide her with this valuable experience that we hope will further develop her as a future physician and social change agent.