NIH Medical Research Scholar Receives Emerging Leader in Medicine Award

Jordan Juarez, a recent scholar of the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) and fourth-year medical student from Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia, has received the 2023 AL DÍA News Emerging Leader award by AL DÍA—a Philadelphia-based multilingual and multicultural news media organization that highlights the contributions of Latinos in the United States.

Juarez was a trainee in the 2022-2023 MRSP cohort. He completed his research fellowship in NIMHD Director Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable’s Minority Health and Populations Experiencing Health Disparities Laboratory and under the mentorship of Dr. Erik J. Rodriquez, epidemiologist and staff scientist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. During the MRSP, “Jordan easily took on the role of leader or collaborator on topics advancing our studies of health disparities that range from health of Afro-Latinos to the burden of asthma-related mortality by race/ethnicity and geography,” said Dr. Rodriquez.

The MRSP is a comprehensive, yearlong research enrichment program designed to train research-oriented medical, dental, and veterinary students in biomedical research at NIH. NIMHD participates with other NIH Institutes and Centers to introduce the program to medical students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and to encourage them to consider a career in biomedical research. “The MRSP offers a transformational training experience that will promote students to become leaders in American medicine,” said Dr. Thomas R. Burklow, Director of the MRSP, in a press release welcoming the 2022-2023 MRSP cohort.

The AL DÍA Top Doctors Award, which honors outstanding Latino doctors from across the Philadelphia region and beyond, described Juarez as a rising star in medicine. Juarez was one of 10 honorees for the 2023 awards and was the only medical student recognized among a group of physicians and faculty.

Third from left: Jordan Juarez with other honorees during the 2023 AL DÍA Top Doctors Award ceremony
Third from left: Jordan Juarez with other honorees during the 2023 AL DÍA Top Doctors Award ceremony.

Juarez was born into a large Mexican American family and raised in the predominantly Spanish-speaking community of Chula Vista in Southern California. His decision to pursue a career in health care and later get involved in health disparities research under the MRSP was influenced by the story of his grandmother. He learned that she immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1960s and took up work as a low-wage seamstress in a Los Angeles factory. But her limited English proficiency would make it difficult for her to access any kind of health care, eventually causing her to develop type 2 diabetes.

Inspired by her experience, Juarez has devoted his career to advocating for the health needs of communities and populations experiencing health disparities. He also plans to pursue a career in academic medicine, specializing in internal medicine, to continue to address health disparities—a goal he stated was reinforced during the MRSP. According to him, “the MRSP experience confirmed my desire to pursue academic medicine and, ultimately, a research career. NIH is a truly special place and I hope to come back someday after my training.”

Describing his experience of the MRSP as transformational, Jordan stated that the program also positively impacted him professionally through the research training—which provided him new perspectives and techniques to assess health disparities in affected populations—and the mentorship he received from Drs. Pérez-Stable and Rodriquez, as well as support from other MRSP leaders (Drs. Burklow, Leitman, and Grady).

Juarez received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in neuroscience and global medicine in 2017 and 2018, respectively, from the University of Southern California.

Page updated Jan. 12, 2024