Advisors and student co-chairs at the MATCH Program's AI in Healthcare session. From left to right: Florence Lyn Basang, Diana Ambrosio, Sabrina Ghambor, Alice Ma.
UCLA MATCH (Mentorship and Advocacy in Teaching Clinical Health-Related Research) Program held its second year of programming during Spring of 2023. The UCLA MATCH program is designed for high school students from communities underrepresented in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) to increase diversity in the scientific community through career mentorship and education supporting clinical research pathways in medicine, healthcare and beyond. The program is a collaboration between the Clinical and Translational Science Institute Research Associates Program (CTSI-RAP) and DGSOM Community Engagement. UCLA MATCH students are paired with undergraduate UCLA students from CTSI-RAP to participate in seven weeks of didactic lectures and small group activities centered around patient-oriented research and scientific inquiry.
This year we expanded our applicant pool to include the Greater Los Angeles Area (see listing below). Nineteen high school students grades 10-12 were selected to join the program. Each MATCH student was paired with a CTSI-RAP student as their professional mentor. The CTSI-RAP students are equipped with knowledge of the pre-health undergraduate experience as well as the clinical research experience from their respective CTSI-RAP projects. We encourage our RAP students to serve as mentors in a well-established CTSI workforce development program to enhance the academic pipeline between high school and college by providing a near-peer experience. During the seven-week program, both mentors and mentees met weekly over Zoom presentations on various topics including clinical research, ethics in healthcare, artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, and career pathways. MATCH co-chairs/ CTSI-RAP mentors Alice Ma and Sabrina Ghalambor served in a leadership role providing the guiding principles for both mentors and mentees to enhance the maximum benefits for all participants.
Each week MATCH students were given the opportunity to challenge themselves by learning about innovations in healthcare and clinical research. Our AI in Healthcare session was created and led by our newest CTSI-RAP members, Madeline Mai and Hannah Jin. During this session, students learned about new AI innovations in healthcare, followed by the opportunity to pitch their own ideas on AI in Healthcare to the group similar to Shark Tank. The MATCH students had inventive ideas ranging from a robot scribe to a health assistant phone application. During our fifth session, we provided an opportunity for a group of RAP mentors to present studies that they showcased at UCLA’s Undergraduate Research Week. Sukanya Mohapatra, Amanda Piring, Guadalupe Gonzalez and Sabrina Ghalambor presented their research work involving various topics including HIV, Cannabis, Tuberous Sclerosis-Associated Neuropsychiatric Disorders and Mobile Health for Heart Failure.
The MATCH students ended the program with a culmination project in which they shared their own research on a topic of their choosing. With the guidance of their mentors, students selected a wide array of subject areas. Some topics included: cancer, body integrity disorder, nanomedicine, and Lasik. This year the program was able to host its first in-person session in collaboration with the Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health Data & Science Academy led by Dr. Moira Inkelas. The final session brought the students and mentors to gather at UCLA’s main campus on a Saturday. Participants attended the UCLA Athletics Open House, toured campus, and enjoyed a networking lunch followed by a final program culmination ceremony. The event was held in Moss Auditorium where MATCH Program Co-Director Dr. Laurie Shaker-Irwin gave a presentation on Translational Science, Clinical Trials Day, and Career Pathways in Clinical Research. Dr. Inkelas followed, describing her background in health sciences-related research efforts across the spectrum of public health and policy. The students participated in a quiz show team event and were awarded participation certificates.
Overall, the program has earned high reviews in the past two years. The majority of mentors (90%) and mentees (95%) stated they would like to continue their relationship outside of the program. Mentees also found their experience in the program very beneficial with 92% of mentees stating they are either likely or very likely to recommend the program to a friend. In addition, all mentees (100%) indicated that they are four-year college or university bound. Most mentees (92%) also indicated an interest in pursuing a health or medical career. Some future professions mentioned by MATCH students were Doctor, Nurse and Therapist. Upon completion of the program a MATCH student stated “I feel more motivated, confident, and reassured to pursue a job in the medical field”.
A special thank you to our CTSI-RAP Outreach and External Relations co-chairs, Alice Ma and Sabrina Ghalambor, for their hard work this year. We would also like to give thanks to all our staff: Gloria Moon, Laurie Shaker-Irwin, Florence Bansag, David Rincon and Diana Ambrosio.
Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School
Linda E. Marquez Huntington Park Institute of Applied Medicine
Gardena Senior High School
Highland High School
Dr. Richard A. Vladovic Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy