Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine Student Wins Scholarship Aimed to Increase Underrepresented Minority Physicians

Date: April 05, 2012
Charlotte Pham
Charlotte Pham
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Barbara Franklin
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New York, N.Y. – Charlotte Uyen Pham, a first-year medical student at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM), has been awarded a scholarship from the National Medical Fellowships, Inc. (NMF), which advocates for increasing the number of underrepresented minority physicians in the United States. The $2,500 award was made possible by The Lincoln Fund, a long-time supporter of the NMF and its mission.

Ms. Pham, a Vietnamese immigrant who came to the U.S. in 2004 with her mother, brought with her to TouroCOM a passion for working on public health issues – specifically raising awareness about the connection between hepatitis B and C, infections of the liver, and primary liver cancer. The connection, she said, is an issue she remains dedicated to pursuing while in medical school and when working as a physician.

“I am very grateful for this special scholarship, which has encouraged me to overcome any challenges to becoming a physician and to achieving my goals. I’ll continue to raise awareness about hepatitis B and C and liver cancer wherever I go,” Ms. Pham said.

Ms. Pham said that both forms of hepatitis are risk factors for liver cancer - a fact she said is not well- understood by the general public. “They are silent killers – by the time the patient notices any symptoms, it may be too late.”

Recently Ms. Pham was elected president of the school’s Hematology/Oncology Student Organization for 2012-13, a role she envisions will help her and her fellow students run free hepatitis testing events, educational workshops and partner with community organizations in Harlem. Last month she attended a statewide hepatitis conference to network and learn more about the disease.

Ms. Pham completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis. After graduation in 2009, she worked for two years at Stanford University Medical Center as a clinical research assistant, where she helped the team try to find alternate methods to diagnose primary liver cancer at an early stage, when more treatment options would be available.

“I kept seeing new patients diagnosed with primary liver cancer caused by the hepatitis B and C infections. Many patients did not know that they were chronically infected because they did not see any symptoms. Others had known that they were infected but they neither were monitored for liver function nor got screened for liver cancer until they developed large tumors,” she said. “It is so frustrating to see new patients with late stages of cancer because of lack of knowledge.”

Ms. Pham also worked on public health projects to raise awareness of the issue in the Asian community. She coordinated free testing events and educational workshops for the poor and uninsured and worked as a project coordinator for a cancer radio program to help listeners understand the myths and facts about cancer, healthy lifestyles to reduce cancer risks and the importance of routine screenings for early detection.

TouroCOM advances the osteopathic profession and serves its students and society by providing a firm educational foundation that encourages research and scholarly activity and participation in community service. Osteopathic medicine is a distinct form of medical practice in the U.S. that provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Since its founding in 2007, TouroCOM has dedicated itself to encouraging minorities to enter medicine and to increasing the number of primary care physicians. The school functions as an integral part of the New York City/Harlem community, working with local schools and other colleges and universities to promote the study of medicine, encourage continuing development, increase educational opportunities and deliver medical services in a variety of community settings. In addition to its focus on primary care, the College emphasizes the promotion of wellness from prenatal through geriatric care. For further information visit: