February 14, 2024

Wayne State graduate selected to National Institutes of Health's All of Us Research Scholar Program

Syeda ainab

DETROIT — Syeda Zainab ’23 is among a small group of future health research professionals selected to participate in a program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Zainab, who graduated from Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in December 2023, is one of 61 scholars and 32 mentors accepted in this year’s All of Us Research Program.

“Because I was a public health major, I wanted to use my degree in something related to public health and I wanted more research knowledge,” said Zainab, who majored in public health with a minor in nutrition and food science. “I really like research, and I thought the capstone classes I had were fun, so I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll do this.’”

The All of Us Research Program is a historic effort to collect and study health data from at least 1 million people living in the United States with the goal of accelerating health research discoveries and enabling new kinds of individualized health care. To make this possible, the program is building one of the world’s largest and most diverse databases for health research. The program aims for the dataset to reflect the diversity of the U.S. population and to include study participants from communities that have been underrepresented in health research.

“The program is a great opportunity for students at all levels with an interest in biomedical research to grow as researchers and as leaders, and to potentially impact the future of healthcare,” said Brandy Thibodeaux, senior associate at Pyxis Partners. “Through this program, students will also have the opportunity to participate in professional development workshops and to network with mentors and other students. We’re so excited to see the amazing work that they’ll do both now and after they complete this program.”

As a scholar, Zainab will learn how to conduct scientific research using data and research tools, creating a scientific project and poster, and sharpening the skills she’ll need to support biomedical research in the future. 

She has already begun work on her research project and has been assigned a mentor, Thomas Clobes, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health sciences and medical cannabis at California State University. Zainab’s project is titled, “How does the hormonal changes in Thyroid interplay between blood pressure and glomerulus filtration rate (GFR) in older All of Us research participants?”

“I'm currently working on how thyroid hormones affect your blood pressure and GFR levels and how they correlate with each other,” said Zainab, who graduated from Center Line High School in 2020. “It’s something people don’t look at a lot.”

The deadline for the projects is this March, and researchers will have the chance to present their findings virtually April 3 and 4 at the All of Us Researchers Convention organized by Pyxis Partners, a public affairs and social impact firm that advances health equity, access and affordability.

Being selected as a scholar highlights Zainab’s dedication to becoming a future health researcher, something she’s been working toward since she was 16 years old. She moved to metro Detroit from Pakistan six years ago and plans to earn two masters: one in physician assistant studies, and one in public health.

“I’d like to get my master’s in physician assistant studies and start a stable career,” she said. “Then, I want to apply to a master’s of public health program, just because I like working in the administration side of medicine.”

Zainab said she will apply to a number of schools this spring, but her preferred option is to stay at Wayne State, which has the highest-rated physician assistant program in Michigan and ranks among the top 50 in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report for 2023-24.

“I really like the diversity of Wayne State because everyone loves each other,” said Zainab, whose father, Pervez Hussain, earned an engineering degree from Wayne State in the early 2000s. “There aren’t groups of people here and other groups of people there. Everyone is together.”

As excited as she is to be selected, Zainab is humbled by the research opportunity and her other academic achievements, which includes graduating from WSU in three years with a 3.55 GPA.

“Well, I come from a very ethnic family,” she said, laughing, “so they’re still like, ‘Oh, you could have done better.’”

 

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