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Caty joined OrACORe in July 2023, shortly following her graduation from Dartmouth College with a BA in Cell Biology and a minor in Global Health. While at Dartmouth, Caty worked at The Granite State Organizing Project, a community organization whose mission is to provide equitable housing, immigrant rights, and environmental justice to those in need. Caty and several Dartmouth friends founded the feminist group Spare Rib, which produces a magazine each term and works to build community amongst marginalized groups. A summer position in 2022 relocated her to Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital Emergency Department, where she shadowed emergency medicine physicians, social workers, and surgeons. She was able to work closely with immigrant, homeless, and otherwise marginalized individuals due to Bellevue’s status as a safety net hospital. Caty was an active member in her Greek house, Epsilon Kappa Theta, which was gender inclusive and focused on providing a place for students traditionally excluded by Greek life, including queer people and people of color. Outside of work at OrACORe, she enjoys volunteering at a domestic violence shelter with residents and their children. Caty also volunteers with Big Sister Boston, where she acts as a mentor to a Little Sister. They bond over activities, such as pumpkin carving to visiting the Museum of Science.

Caty Brown (second from right) with friends and members of the feminist group Spare Rib at Dartmouth Graduation. Photo courtesy of Caty Brown.

What about this research position attracted you to it?

My long-term career goals include becoming a clinician with a focus on women’s health. In college, I took a lot of coursework that helped me to conceptualize healthcare as a structure, which is capable of structural violence through disparities in treatment for minorities. I focused a lot on structural violence for women, using feminist and queer frameworks. With that in mind, I wanted to perform research with a focus on policy because policy is the mechanism by which we can affect structure. I continue to be particularly interested in research on women and other vulnerable groups. This has cultivated my enthusiasm for working on TOPS (The Osteoarthritis Prevention Study), which recruits only women, and FraPol (The Frailty Policy Model), which models frailty in people with HIV. The combination of clinical research as well as modeling research was attractive to me as well, given my interests in both policy and in direct participant-facing interactions.

What’s a typical week on the job for you?

My two biggest commitments are the TOPS and FraPol studies. For the TOPS Study, I have been working to coordinate our imaging procedures for the baseline visits as well as finalizing many of our screening processes. We will start recruitment soon and I am excited to conduct baseline visits, which will involve blood draws and imaging. Since FraPol is a modeling project, my tasks include data derivations (I am currently working on determining background annual medical costs) and coordinating the full team to keep us on track for model development. We are working on adding “updaters” right now, which are changes that take into account new conditions of the simulated subjects every cycle the model runs. After a lot of hard work on the part of our study team, the model is coming together!

Caty Brown leading a first-year orientation group to the top of Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire. Photo courtesy of Caty Brown.

What do you like most about being a research assistant at OrACORe?

I really appreciate the other RAs, who are all thoughtful, witty, kind, and so very smart. They keep me on my toes, and I am glad to spend time with them both in and out of the office.

What’s one thing you’ve learned in the past month here that either changed the way you understand health care or influenced you in some other way?

Not necessarily a tangible thing I’ve learned, but I have been volunteering at a domestic violence shelter with some of the other RAs, and recently I realized how much simply showing up matters. When we go to visit the children, they light up when we walk in the door. Although we are not doing anything revolutionary by playing games and reading books to the kids, we have been able to form meaningful relationships with them. The importance of showing up is downplayed, so I have been trying to be mindful and aware of it and to think about it more.

Caty Brown with her peers during an internship at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital Emergency Department. Photo courtesy of Caty Brown.

What are your plans post-OrACORe?

I plan to attend medical school, to eventually become a practicing physician. I hope to work in women’s health, although I am unsure of which specialty. While a variety of specialties would allow me to focus on gendered healthcare, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore during medical school.  

What makes you laugh the most these days?

I play board games with a group of friends every week, and I laugh a lot there. I always say I get a case of the giggles.

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