Published June 3, 2022
Sherice Simpson is the eighth Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences medical student to participate in the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP).
Simpson is a member of the 2021-22 class of MRSP, which serves as a fellowship between the third and fourth year of medical school and places students in NIH laboratories and patient care areas to conduct basic, translational or clinical research in areas that match their career interests and research goals.
MRSP scholars select a program mentor and create a career-development plan under the guidance of an assigned adviser.
Simpson has been working with Donna Baird at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Durham, North Carolina. Baird’s lab is in the Department of Epidemiology of Reproductive Health and she leads the Women’s Health Group.
“Dr. Baird is well known for her work in uterine fibroids, fertility and early pregnancy. I chose this lab because of my interest in women’s health and public health,” Simpson says. “I saw that I would be able to get the best of both worlds here.”
Simpson presented her research project, “Correlates of Infertility in African American Women,” via videoconferencing at the MRSP’s research symposium May 9.
“I spent my fellowship studying infertility in a cohort of African American women who were participants in a prospective study of fibroid development,” she says. “The aims of the study were to explore the demographic correlates of infertility, what medical conditions could be contributing to infertility, and the role of the age of menarche (age of a woman’s first menstrual cycle) in infertility.”
Black women have a higher burden of infertility, they are less likely to seek medical care for infertility and they have lower success when utilizing assisted reproductive technology, Simpson notes.
“Understanding what other correlates of infertility could be involved in this health disparity is important for addressing it and for future interventions to improve it,” she adds.
Simpson, a native of Syracuse, earned a BA in public health at the University of Rochester and a MS in interdisciplinary health sciences with a concentration in anatomy and pathology from the Drexel University College of Medicine before enrolling in the Jacobs School.
During her first three years of medical school, Simpson conducted research in the Department of Surgery.
“In the summer between my first and second year of medical school, I gained some skills in clinical research by assisting with a project in pediatric surgery,” Simpson says.
During her third year, she worked with Weidun Alan Guo, professor of clinical surgery, on a project focused on racial disparities in trauma outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simpson also worked on a project about a surgical technique used to treat pilonidal cysts.
“I have been interested in fetal surgery for a long time and I originally thought I would pursue pediatric surgery as a career. However, during my third year I really found my place during my obstetrics and gynecology rotation,” Simpson says.
“Upon reflection, I came to terms with the fact that throughout my education I have always been drawn to maternal child health and so going into OB-GYN makes a lot more sense for me,” she adds.
Simpson says she still plans to pursue her interest in fetal surgery through fellowships in maternal fetal medicine and fetal interventional therapy.
“I hope to have a career as a clinician-scientist and to continue epidemiological research in women’s health,” she says.
“Sherice has an obvious drive and commendable passion for women’s health, public health, medicine and clinical research,” says Allison Brashear, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. “She is a stellar representative of the Jacobs School who is laying the groundwork for future generations of clinician-scientists.”
Simpson says participating in the MRSP confirmed for her that she wants a career as a clinician-scientist and it also showed her that she can accomplish that without having to be in a lab.
“I came to medical school with the goal of continuing to connect my love for public health with my love for medicine,” she says. “Spending my year in epidemiology has given me a lot of foundational skills in public health research.
“Additionally, studying women’s health, particularly Black women’s health, proved to me that OB-GYN was the best place for me in medicine.
“I have completed a lot of research before the MRSP, learning about the racial health disparities in maternal mortality, infant mortality, pregnancy outcomes, etc., and I am passionate about being an agent of change for Black women to have better health outcomes when accessing medical care,” she says.
Previous Jacobs School participants in the MRSP are: