The University of Arizona Center on Aging has announced that the 2015-2016 Theodore H. Koff Graduate Scholarship has been awarded to Pooja Rajguru, a second-year medical student at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
The scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding UA graduate students who are pursuing studies in aging, health-care administration or gerontology, or to health professions students with an interest in aging and gerontology.
A native of Pune, India, Rajguru attended high school in the Phoenix area and graduated from the UA with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and a minor in chemistry and chemical engineering. Her introduction to aging took place during the UA Biomedical Engineering Summer Clinical Immersion Program, when she participated in research at the UA Center on Aging and the UA interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance (iCAMP), using body-worn sensors to measure frailty and fall risk in elders who reside in community dwellings.
In 2015, she was awarded the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) scholarship, administered by the American Federation for Aging Research and the National Institute on Aging. Rajguru spent the summer at Johns Hopkins University, working with international frailty expert, Jeremy Walston, MD, and evaluating mitochondrial DNA in relation to frailty and inflammatory models. She hopes to become an internal medicine translational physician-researcher.
Rajguru is a co-coordinator of the UA Internal Medicine Student Association. She also volunteers with the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) Program as co-coordinator with Students Helping In Need Elders (SHINE), which hosts clinics once a month at St. Luke’s Home, an assisted living facility in Tucson that uses Eden Alternative (or elder-centered) care practices. SHINE is an IPEP, or Interprofessional Education and Practice, collaboration with St. Luke’s, the Arizona Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program, UA College of Medicine – Tucson, UA Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
“It’s very interesting to see the wide range of care that elders require, and working with them at St. Luke’s helps apply classroom learning,” Rajguru said. “They need proper care in their homes and assistance with navigating the medical system. Establishing continuity of care is essential for them, as I have learned through my experiences with the Arizona Center on Aging and work this summer; this is one of the things Dr. Koff believed in strongly.”
The Theodore H. Koff Graduate Scholarship was established by the family and friends of Theodore H. Koff, PhD, late professor of public administration and policy at the UA Eller College of Management and founding co-director of the UA Center on Aging. In an illustrious career that spanned 50 years, Dr. Koff dedicated his life to improving care for elders.
Previous Koff Graduate Scholarship recipients include: Hersh Goel (2012-13); Gia Leonetti and Daniel Butler (2011-12); Natasha Bhuyan (2010-11); Danielle Cabral and Rhianon N. Iassogna-Roman (2009-10); Leilani Burton and Emanuel Husu (2008-09); and Nilay Kavathia and Benjamin McDonald (2006-07).
About the University of Arizona Center on Aging
The University of Arizona Center on Aging, an Arizona Board of Regents Center of Excellence at the University of Arizona Health Sciences, works closely with the UA Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health — as well as the College of Nursing & Health Innovation at Arizona State University and other statewide partners — to promote an interdisciplinary approach to its mission of enabling older adults to live healthy and functional lives through comprehensive programs in research, education and training and clinical care. It is affiliated with the Division of Geriatrics, General Internal Medicine and Palliative Medicine within the UA Department of Medicine. Students, residents and fellows also get clinical training primarily at Banner – University Medical Center and Banner – University Medical Group facilities in Tucson and Phoenix through their affiliation as the teaching hospitals and clinics for the University of Arizona. Both are part of Banner – University Medicine, the academic medicine division of Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country with operations in seven states. The Tucson hospital rated 39th of 5,000 hospitals surveyed for geriatric care in the most recent U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospital” rankings