Susana "Susan” Williams Keeshin, MD, an adjunct instructor in the division of infectious diseases at UC, received her medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., in 2005. She completed her internal medicine-pediatrics residency at the University of Utah in 2009 followed by her infectious diseases fellowship at UC, where she became involved in studying injection drug use, hepatitis C and HIV co-infection and adolescents with HIV. (As a med-peds doctor, she is trained and board certified in both disciplines.) Most recently, Keeshin received a fellowship award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group. The fellowship was created over a year ago for minority junior faculty with a career research focus on HIV/AIDS; this was the second round of awards given. Applications are open to all funded units—UC being one of them—and are highly competitive. Keeshin was one of only two awardees for the 2012-13 year.
Explain your research scope.
"One of my aims in research, in injection drug use and infective endocarditis (infection of the endocardial surface of the heart), is to show the need for harm reduction for injection drug users. Through the use of syringe exchange, use of methadone or suboxone maintenance, increase in numbers and access to drug rehabilitation centers and drug addiction doctors and therapists, we can easily minimize infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis C and bacterial infections, which users are at high risk for acquiring. These infections are a huge drain on the medical system as many of these patients are without insurance or are underinsured. The cost of these preventable infectious diseases rests on the community/taxpayer.”
What does this award mean for your research and for you as a young investigator?
"I plan to focus my research to include HIV mono-infected and HIV/hepatitis C co-infected patients with substance abuse, primarily opiate abuse but also including other substance abuse issues as well. As an internist and pediatrician, I am mostly interested in the adolescent or young adult age group. This award will allow me to learn new research skills and help lay the groundwork for a National Institutes of Health K Award.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
"I grew up in the Rocky Mountains and love to snowboard, hike and camp. I also enjoy spending time with my small family, which includes my husband and 1-year-old daughter.”
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