RISE Scholars

Sherita Chapman Smith, MD
University of Virginia
RISE Cohort 5


Upon graduating from college and preparing for a graduate program in microbiology, I struggled with the decision of medicine versus basic science research. I desired the ability to treat patients, but also to help facilitate new therapies and treatments. Therefore, I made the decision to defer my graduate school plans and apply for a post baccalaureate research program at the NIH. My work at the NIH provided me with exposure to an environment of physicians conducting clinical research. It was then that I realized entering the medical profession would not restrict me to clinical practice. My journey through medical school and residency strengthened my interest in the field of vascular neurology. I have a great desire not only to clinically treat stroke patients but also in conducting research to better understand the mechanisms and help facilitate new therapies and treatments in stroke. Additionally, I have developed a strong interest in health disparity research. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the world and acute treatment is time dependent. We also know the sooner patientsreceive treatment the better the outcome. There are many in rural areas that live hours from the closest hospital. Growing up in a rural area was a significant factor is my interest in improving stroke treatment times by using prehospital telemedicine to evaluate patients during transport. My proposed research project, PRE-ALERT is a unique blend of an innovative clinical practice, which has the potential to reduce stroke disparities in rural areas.