We are pleased to announce the 2017 recipient of the Roman Jax Nguyen Memorial Scholarship.

Avery’s Angels® Gastroschisis Foundation is pleased to award Arti Desai with the 2017 Roman Jax Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $500 for her continued studies in Global Health and research into Gastroschisis.

We carefully review applications annually for someone who is an exemplary candidate, someone who not only is academically excellent, but also actively and authentically engaged in their community in a positive way. From Desai’s record, it is very clear that both of these areas are a part of her passion.

Avery’s Angels® Gastroschisis Foundation is dedicated to providing unconditional support, promoting awareness and research on a global scale. Our commitment to each family, patient and effort no matter where they are is something we hold as a mantra. When reflecting the memory of one of our fallen patients, it is even more important that this standard is exemplified in anything we attach our name to.

It is clear to the committee that our luck is hardly needed, Desai’s letters of recommendation, resume and letter of intent show all the dedication and commitment of a highly successful individual. It is with all of our best wishes that we award this scholarship to Arti Desai.

Arti Desai – Personal Statement and Essay

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others” – Audrey Hepburn

I am currently a fourth year PhD student in Biology at Loma Linda University specializing in Perinatal Biology and working with high risk pregnancies and birth defects. Particularly, my project is focusing on gastroschisis. I am investigating gastroschisis etiology from a biological, epidemiological, and environmental/geo-special perspective. Data suggests an increase in the incidence of gastroschisis within the United States, the State of California, and the Inland Empire Region of Southern California over the past several decades. The rise in cases displays the need to increase awareness of preconceptional and prenatal care and educate expectant mothers of potential risk factors (i.e. social factors such as use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco and biological factors such as BMI) and teratogens during the early critical stages of fetal development to improve pregnancy outcomes. My personal, academic and professional interests and experiences have directed me towards the path of maternal and fetal research and addressing healthcare disparities.

Prior to my doctorate work, I received my Masters in Public Health in Global Health and as part of my MPH I have assessed community needs and implemented appropriate interventions by way of curricula, classes, advocacy, and community partnerships in The Philippines, Laos, Belize, Peru, and will be traveling to Madagascar this summer to work at a women’s health clinic. With my global emphasis I not only possess the skill set to work locally, but internationally as well, where I have been able to utilize my academic and research training in clinical and public health practice in countries where women’s health issues are a huge concern but infrequently addressed. One of the most impactful experiences for me was when I worked with a local NGO in Laos and traveled to eight rural villages to conduct a needs and assets assessment. I had discovered that these villages were without electricity, running water and that the local health center had to be shut down because the villages had no access to clean water. I used my findings to apply for a grant to help build wells and latrines to improve health, hygiene and sanitation for the community members. I still receive news that the villages have fresh and clean water and the project has been a sustainable measure to healthy quality improvement, especially at improving childhood mortality rates.

Furthermore, in a time of rapid change within the structure and functioning of healthcare in this country, I have realized that there is a growing need for leaders with backgrounds in both medicine and management. I hope to combine the clinical research training from my PhD coupled with my passion for translational medicine, “from the bench to the patient’s bedside,” to allow for a health care continuum that would utilize best health practices into practical solutions. This clinical research training paired with my background in Public Health has led me to begin to grasp some of the challenges of working in fragmented care delivery systems. Due to this, I have been furthering my understanding of both healthcare and management through an Administrative Mentorship Fellowship at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.

My ambition intersects clinical excellence and research with unparalleled experience in administrative training. The goal is to shape public policy, balance medical needs with economic realities by reducing costs for patients while increasing quality. The results would be a substantial boost in the health and well-being of individuals and community. I aspire to be a researcher and healthcare leader that can efficiently promote the highest quality of care through evidence- based interventions for not only the health of the community, but also the world, while continuing to work and advocate for other young women and mothers. Every opportunity in life is a chance to both educate and be educated. I am a woman breaking through barriers, and this will definitely be attributes I will pass on to future generations.

A big thank you to the scholarship committee for your consideration and selecting me as this years scholarship recipient. I am very humbled by your letter and well wishes and look forward to working alongside the Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation in educating, promoting and advocating for gastroschisis patients and their families and loved ones.

Learn more about the scholarship program HERE