UTHSC Medical Student Mercy Kibe Receives Prestigious Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship

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Mercy Kibe, center, is pictured with her mentors, Vanessa Morales-Tirado, MS, PhD, assistant professor of Ophthalmology at UT Health Science Center, and Matthew W. Wilson, MD, FACS, UTHSC professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and director of ocular oncology. Dr. Wilson is also St. Jude Endowed Chair in Pediatric Ophthalmology.
Mercy Kibe, center, is pictured with her mentors, Vanessa Morales-Tirado, MS, PhD, assistant professor of Ophthalmology at UT Health Science Center, and Matthew W. Wilson, MD, FACS, UTHSC professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and director of ocular oncology. Dr. Wilson is also St. Jude Endowed Chair in Pediatric Ophthalmology.

Mercy Kibe, a third-year medical student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has a special interest in global health.

Born in Kenya, she moved to the United States as a child with her family. Her heritage informs her desire to investigate disease on a global level.

Kibe, 25, is the recipient of a prestigious International Clinical Research Fellowship from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which will allow her to take a year off from her studies at UTHSC to conduct mentored clinical research in a developing country.

“I am interested in investigating how chronic disease conditions impact medically vulnerable populations who do not have access to great care,” she said.

Kibe has been working in the Department of Ophthalmology in the College of Medicine, UTHSC Hamilton Eye Institute for two years, performing research under the direction of Vanessa Morales-Tirado, MS, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology, and Matthew W. Wilson, MD, FACS, professor of ophthalmology, director of ocular oncology, and St. Jude Endowed Chair in Pediatric Ophthalmology. She is interested in pursuing ophthalmology.

Dr. Morales-Tirado considers it her good fortune to have recruited Kibe in 2013 for a summer research position in the lab she was setting up at the Hamilton Eye Institute. Kibe is now an essential part of that lab, she said.

“Mercy is a rising star,” Dr. Morales-Tirado said. “The Doris Duke International Fellowship is the first among many awards I am sure she will get throughout her career.”

The fellowship is administered through six medical schools in the United States that have established programs in global health research. Kibe will participate through Harvard Medical School from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016. Initially, she will take courses through the Harvard School of Public Health, and then will work abroad, primarily in Rwanda, about eight months. After that, she will return to UTHSC for her fourth year of medical school.

“The Doris Duke Fellowship is really a unique opportunity to pursue mentored research abroad,” Kibe said. “It’s a wonderful chance to learn how to conduct global research.”

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation works to improve the quality of lives through grants supporting the arts, conservation, medical research and other global endeavors.