Kristin Hunt, a member of the McGill University MDCM Class of 2020, was recently selected as the first place winner of Global Genes’ David R. Cox Scholarship competition for 2018. The David R. Cox Scholarship for Rare Compassion, now in its third year, was developed to create an opportunity for medical students to connect with the rare disease community with the goal of developing their understanding and compassion for the challenges and lifestyles that patients diagnosed with a rare disease are faced with on a daily basis. As part of the program, participating medical students are matched with a rare disease patient and/or family and students that meet the program’s requirements are then invited to submit an essay or audio submission detailing their experience in order to be considered for a scholarship.
Kristin was matched with her rare disease patient back in early March, and got to know her over the course of three months. Her patient’s story, her journey and Kristin’s experience getting to know her formed the basis of Kristin’s winning essay, with the two remaining in touch today. “I am pursuing the field of medicine with many goals, but more than anything I hope to be an advocate and a voice for rare patients who need to be heard,” says Kristin of some of her motivations for participating in the Global Genes program.
Kristin’s desire to study medicine was heavily inspired by her own diagnosis with a rare autoimmune bleeding disorder called Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) at the age of 12. “As a kid and teen, I was in and out of the hospital a lot, and eventually decided that I wanted to do something to help other patients going through similar struggles as myself,” she explains. She first got involved with the Platelet Disorder Support Association and started to make an impact in raising awareness of ITP while also organizing multiple fundraisers. Once accepted into medical school, she was looking for a way to continue helping rare patients on a broader scale. “My colleague and friend, Jessie (now rareDIG’s president), spoke to me about wanting to start a Rare Disease Interest Group (rareDIG) to raise awareness of rare diseases amongst the medical student community,” says Kristin. “I was very excited to find someone else interested in rare diseases and was immediately on board to help her start this group. Our committee grew to eight passionate people who are dedicated to improving awareness and access to care for rare disease patients. Our first Rare Disease Day event was a huge success and we plan to continue expanding and growing our efforts.”
Prior to starting medical school Kristin received her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Immunology and her Master of Science in Immunology, both from McGill. As VP-External for rareDIG, Kristin led the push to secure the group’s status as a student chapter of the National Organization of Rare Disorders. She hopes to eventually pursue a specialty related to clinical immunology.
As part of the David R. Cox Scholarship Kristin will receive $5,000 plus complimentary registration to the Global Genes 2018 RARE Patient Advocacy Summit, including $600 in travel support.
July 26, 2018