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Our Trainee Honored by the American Geriatrics Society

By: Maja Gawronska, MA

We are thrilled to announce that an abstract by Courtney Hsu, a trainee in our Medical Student Training in Aging Research program, has been selected for presentation as a poster at the 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in May 2016. 

We are especially pleased that the abstract was selected for the Presidential Poster Session, which is reserved for projects receiving the highest scores in the peer review process.  

The American Geriatrics Society is a not-for-profit organization of more than 5,000 health professionals devoted to improving the health, independence and quality of life of all older people. It provides leadership to health-care professionals, policy makers and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. 

Hsu is a second-year medical student at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Her interest in aging started as an undergrad at UC Berkeley. 

“After taking a small group course in undergrad on aging, death, and dying, I became interested in the subject of aging and working with elders,” Hsu said. “Between my sophomore and junior (years), I founded Bears for Elder Welfare (the bear being UC Berkeley’s mascot), a student- run organization dedicated to educating the campus and wider community on issues in aging and volunteering with the local elder community.” 

Entering medical school, she wanted to further pursue her interest in aging and applied to Medical Student Training in Aging Research program at UC San Diego. 

The MSTAR program managed by the UC San Diego Stein Institute for Research on Aging provides medical students with an enriching experience in aging-related research and geriatrics, with the mentorship of top experts in the field. This program introduces students to research and academic experiences early in their training that they might not otherwise have during medical school. 

Positive MSTAR experiences have led many physicians-in-training to pursue academic careers in aging, ranging from basic science to clinical research to health services research. Students participate in an eight- to twelve-week structured research, clinical, and didactic program in geriatrics, appropriate to their level of training and interests. Research projects are offered in basic, translational, clinical, or health services research relevant to older people. 

Hsu took part in MSTAR last summer and worked on an innovative project titled “The Use of iPad Apps in Reducing Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Dementia” under the mentorship of Ipsit Vahia, MD, geriatric psychiatrist and director of research for Senior Behavioral Health. 

Inspired by her research and caring for older patients at Senior Behavioral Health, a voluntary inpatient psychiatry unit at University of California San Diego Medical Center–Hillcrest, Hsu authored an article about her experience in MSTAR. Her story has been published in the newsletter of the American Federation for Aging Research, a private foundation supporting the science of healthier aging. 


If you wish to learn more about the MSTAR program, please contact Julie Avanzino at: