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Darya started working at OrACORe in June 2023 after graduating from Bates College with a BA in Biology and Psychology. In the spring of her sophomore year, Darya co-founded the club Fem STEM at Bates, whose mission is the empowerment of female-identifying students pursuing careers in STEM. She rowed throughout her 4 years in undergrad on the Bates Women’s Rowing team and Darya’s boat even won a gold medal at the NCAA National Championship in May 2022. When not on the water, Darya was part of Bates EMS and worked as a first responder for on-campus emergencies. Outside of work, Darya volunteers at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in the spinal cord injury unit assisting patients with meals. Pursing a passion for community involvement, Darya also volunteers at Fenix House, a women’s shelter in the Boston area.

Darya Lee at Bates College graduation. Photo courtesy of Darya Lee.

What about this research position attracted you to it?

I was drawn to the position at OrACORe for the opportunity to take part in multiple clinical studies to gain more face-to-face experience with study participants before applying to medical school. The idea of joining a group of twelve RAs around my age who are passionate about research and medicine was very appealing to me. I was also drawn to the incredible mentorship. A real effort is made to support each RA as they forge their next path to medicine or to other places of interest following their time here. This, alongside my interest in sports medicine, following a series of knee injuries in high school, made OrACORe the ideal position for me.

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

No day at OrACORe has ever looked the same for me. This has become one of the things I love most about my job as each day brings something new. I am part of the Corticosteroid Meniscectomy Randomized Trial (CoMeT) which is actively recruiting patients undergoing surgery for a meniscal tear. I spend most of my time at the main Brigham campus in the Hale Building (60 Fenwood Road) where I help screen potential study participants for recruitment. However, on surgery days I travel to our satellite location in Foxboro where I collect surgical data and process biospecimens in the OR as our study patients undergo arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (APM). I also conduct baseline and follow-up visits for CoMeT subjects. I’m a blinded Research Assistant on the Knee Arthroplasty Activity Trail (KArAT) and my primary role is participant recruitment and performing baseline and end of intervention musculoskeletal exams. While conducting these visits and making recruitment calls, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with diverse patient populations. While KArAT and CoMeT are actively recruiting, I have had the opportunity to gain knowledge of study design with my work on the Preventing Injured Knees from Osteoarthritis: Severity Outcomes (PIKASO) trial. So far, I have created study materials and have contributed to writing the MOOP, the ‘bible’ of research studies. I am excited to see PIKASO start recruitment in spring 2024! I am also part of the social media team at OrACORe. I am tasked with writing blog posts of interviews highlighting members of the office and making sure publications are compliant on PubMed. Each week I plan Twitter (now known as X) and Instagram posts for our social media pages (give oracore_bwh a follow if you haven’t already)!

Darya Lee with her teammates on the Bates Women’s Rowing Team. Photo courtesy of Darya Lee.

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

Every day at OrACORe is the opportunity to learn something new. There are always opportunities to shadow a physician or other healthcare worker in clinic, attend weekly grand rounds, take part in writing projects and so much more. I also have loved the opportunity to work on multiple different projects because I have been able to see multiple different stages of project development and gain a greater understanding of clinical project design. I am lucky to have the most supportive mentors and colleagues who have constructed a warm and welcoming office environment.

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?

I am grateful to have been able to spend time shadowing Dr. Katz during his Rheumatology clinic. Observing Dr. Katz taking the time to truly listen to his patient’s concerns and to learn about their lives has emphasized the importance of forming meaningful connections with your patients to provide the most optimal care. Spending time with patients and being a listening ear is as essential in treatment as choosing the right medical regimen. This has been further emphasized to me during my participant calls recruiting KArAT and CoMeT patients for baseline and follow-up visits. I hope to implement this care and concern into my future in medicine.

Photo of Darya Lee hiking her favorite peak in New England (Mount Washington)! Photo courtesy of Darya Lee.

What are your plans post-OrACORe?

I am currently studying for the MCAT and plan on applying to medical school this coming year! My time at OrACORe has shown me the importance of combining research with strong interpersonal skills to provide patients with the most comprehensive clinical care. I hope to emulate this going forward into my career.

What makes you laugh the most these days?

I am fortunate to be surrounded by the most amazing group of friends and family who never fail to put a smile on my face. At work, I am lucky to have colleagues that are both smart and very witty. Whether we are sharing stories during lunch about our adventures that come with moving to a new city or discussing the latest Trader Joes seasonal meal, I never find myself short of laughter in the office. Outside of the office, I am grateful to live close by to my family. The time I spend with them, and my rambunctious labradoodle Doug, always brightens my day. Recently I have been watching weekly episodes of the Golden Bachelor with my roommates. It is one of my guilty pleasures and always keeps me laughing. 

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