Hey everyone! My name is Derek, and I am currently an NIH Diversity Fellow working under Drs. Huguet and Milano. I can’t believe I am already halfway through my fellowship! In the last six months, I have been able to further my understanding of cancer disparities affecting the gender-diverse community through my projects with researchers at OHSU and OCHIN. This fellowship is funded by the National Cancer Institute as part of the BRIDGE-C2 Center.
With my mentors at OHSU, we have been investigating differences in cervical cancer screening behaviors and outcomes between gender-diverse and cisgender patients. Additionally, we are studying whether the prospects of undergoing gender-affirming procedures affect patients’ tobacco use. With researchers at OCHIN, we are investigating whether there are differences in colorectal cancer screening behaviors between cisgender and gender-diverse patients seen at community health centers. Through these projects, we hope to highlight existing cancer screening disparities affecting the gender-diverse community and the benefits of gender-affirming surgical care.
In addition to supporting multiple research projects, I have also had the opportunity to connect with physician and public health mentors who have shared their unique journeys through medicine. Their insights have provided me with more clarity on what I hope to achieve during medical school and through a career in medicine. While I currently foresee myself pursuing a career in family medicine working with LGBTQ+ and geriatric populations, I will keep an open mind during medical school. Regardless of what specialty I pursue, however, I want to give back to the communities I come from and that have given me so much.
I am so excited about my remaining time as a research fellow and starting medical school in August! Reflecting on my journey, I know I would not be where I am today without the continued support of my family, mentors, and friends. So, to all of you: Thank you for believing in me. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
This dissemination is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number P50CA244289 and P50CA244289-04S1. This program is supported by funding provided through the Cancer MoonshotSM. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.