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Maame Opare-Addo began working as an OrACORe research assistant in the summer of 2021 after graduating from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology. In her time at OrACORe, Maame led her co-RAs in the operation of the TeMPO and ORBIT studies. Outside of the office, Maame enjoyed volunteering with Boston Cares, reading, and hanging out with friends in the city. In this departing interview, Maame reflects on her growth as a research assistant and shares her goals for a future in medicine.

Maame exploring the redwoods. Photo courtesy of Maame Opare-Addo.

In what ways have you experienced professional and personal growth during your tenure at OrACORe/PIVOT?

I joined OrACORe/PIVOT straight out of undergrad, and it was the best first job for this period of my life. As the coordinator for the TeMPO and ORBIT studies, I strengthened my leadership and problem-solving skills, which allowed me to make significant contributions to KArAT from day one. Having the opportunity to work on grants and journal publications gave me further insight into the translation of our everyday research operations into cohesive, informative narratives with which colleagues in the field could engage. I cannot disentangle my professional growth from my personal growth, especially because our research focus and the study participants we engage with have had a profoundly positive impact on me. Researching knee osteoarthritis and the burden that millions of people face because of it revealed to me the importance of collaboration between patients/participants, clinicians, and researchers. I am grateful for the vibrant study participants I met through ORBIT, TeMPO, and KArAT who illuminated to me the personal impact of different musculoskeletal problems. Connecting with these participants has been incredibly meaningful. Additionally, working with clinicians and researchers who care deeply about this work helped me confirm my interests in medicine and research. Through it all, I have had the privilege of being mentored by Drs. Katz and Losina, leaders not only with decades of experience but whose mentorship was imbued with kindness and positivity. There’s nothing like a good Jeff and Elena pep talk when you’re in the depths of applying for medical school, and those are the kinds of moments that I will hold on to dearly.

Maame (left) with other RA Julia as they prepare to see a total knee arthroplasty. Photo courtesy of Maame Opare- Addo.

How has working at OrACORe/PIVOT impacted your views on the practice of medicine through the lenses of clinical and policy research?

Prior to joining OrACORe, I had a narrow understanding of the impact of research on medicine. I initially thought the link between the two was through biomedical/therapeutic drug trials, but working at OrACORe broadened my understanding. Studies like MeTeOR and TeMPO demonstrate the importance of investigating different treatment and management options for a disease. Registries like ORBIT showed me the importance of observational research in understanding the natural progression of a disease. Inquiring about the lifestyle and quality of life of a patient who has pursued a certain treatment option, as we do in KArAT, has allowed me to see the value of asking questions that evaluate the post-treatment stage. There is room for curiosity throughout the life course of someone with a health issue, and it’s not just at the treatment stage. That’s the biggest lesson that OrACORe taught me related to medicine and research, and I look forward to being involved in research in medical school and beyond.

What will you miss most about OrACORe/PIVOT?

The people. I feel very lucky to have worked with such brilliant and interesting supervisors and colleagues! The work is challenging, but it’s easy to step into this office with enthusiasm because you know you’re working with colleagues who have great personalities and a healthy sense of humor. I will miss the cheerful “good mornings” when Jeff and Elena walk into the office, Faith’s baked goods, and RA trivia nights.

What are your career goals and how have they been affected by your experience at OrACORe/PIVOT?

My goal is to become a physician who can advocate for her patients, especially patients from underserved communities. I learned through my experience at OrACORe that part of this advocacy can be accomplished through research, and the tenacity and curiosity with which we approach research at OrACORe will continue to stick with me and shape my approach to future research.

Maame (bottom left) with some of her colleagues making a valentine’s craft. Photo courtesy of Maame Opare-Addo.

Any advice for future research assistants considering or starting their tenure at OrACORe/PIVOT?

Don’t be shy to ask questions and ask for clarifications, especially as a first-year RA. There is a lot to learn, but you are surrounded by experienced people who are not only willing to share their knowledge but enjoy seeing you learn and succeed!

What will you miss most about the social side of OrACORe/PIVOT?

I will miss all our birthday celebrations throughout the year! Besides the yummy treats that we get to enjoy, I’ll miss how these celebrations bring everyone together in one space to tell stories and share laughs.

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