David Zheng ’15 was born in Guangzhou, China, but spent most of his childhood in Carmel, Indiana. At Princeton, David majored in Psychology and received certificates in Neuroscience and Spanish. He spent much of his time in college dancing, whether on the Theatre Intime stage with BodyHype Dance Company or in World of Dance with Chaos Theory Dance Crew. This past year, David has worked with the Emergency Medicine Network at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he helps coordinate an NIH-funded research study investigating the link between infant bronchiolitis and childhood asthma. He has continued work at his fellowship for a second year, and talks about the progress he’s seen with his young patients.
Since June 2015, I have been working as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Emergency Medicine Network (EMNet) at Massachusetts General Hospital. EMNet is a coordinating center whose mission is to advance public health through diverse projects in emergency care, particularly multicenter clinical research. While I have been fortunate enough to help with a diverse set of projects at EMNet, the main project I have worked on during my Project 55 fellowship is a multicenter prospective study on bronchiolitis in infants known as MARC-35.
MARC-35, also known as the WIND Study, is an NIH-funded study following around 1,000 children who were hospitalized with infant bronchiolitis at 17 different hospitals across the country. Through conducting telephone follow-up interviews and in-person clinical visits, we hope to come to a better understanding of the risk factors for the development of recurrent wheezing and asthma in these children. Although I only recently joined the research team, we had already completed study enrollment several years ago – our youngest kids are just about to turn three, and our oldest kids are almost six years old!
As someone planning to attend medical school, I have profound appreciation for what my job has done for my professional development.
At EMNet, I have had the opportunity to work alongside physicians and other health professionals in a variety of contexts. Through conversations with doctors about their career progression, discussions with researchers over study design, or interactions with nurses during study clinical visits, I have reached a more thorough understanding of what unique challenges and rewards that a career in medicine offers. I have conducted hundreds of follow-up interviews with the parents of children enrolled in our study, forming trusting relationships with some of those participants along the way. I have felt their fear, frustration, and joy, as they confide in me about their child’s recent hospitalization or express their relief about their child’s asthma-free life. Through Project 55, and my experiences at Massachusetts General Hospital, I have gained insight into the kind of impact I hope to one day have on the lives of others as a physician.