Alumna Researches the Screening of Hepatitis C in Babies
May 16, 2018
May 16, 2018
- Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette
A growing number of infants are born exposed to hepatitis C, but fewer than a third are later screened to monitor and treat the potentially fatal virus, according to a recent study by obstetrician-gynecologist and Southwestern University alumna Dr. Catherine Chappell ’03 and her colleagues at Magee-Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
From 2006 through 2014, Catherine and her colleagues saw a 60 percent increase in the prevalence of babies born with hepatitis C. Backed by National Institutes of Health funding, she and her colleagues zoned in on roughly 1,000 babies born at Magee-Womens to mothers who had hepatitis C, and found that as few as 30 percent of the babies were tested for the virus.
To help combat the low number of babies tested for the hepatitis C virus, Catherine plans to screen all expecting mothers for the virus at Magee-Women’s Hospital and treat those who are infected, if possible. Plus, she plans to test the children some time after they reach 18 months of age and treat those infected as soon as possible. Catherine expects that new research will yield treatments that are safe and effective for children as young as 3 years old.
Catherine, who double majored in Chemistry and Biology and minored in sociology, developed a passion for social justice while at SU.
“Catherine was a brilliant student in my sociology classes,” said Maria Lowe, Professor of Sociology. “She also cared deeply about issues related to justice and equity. These values continue to inform who she is as a doctor and medical researcher. Catherine embodies the best qualities of what a pre-med student in Southwestern University’s liberal arts setting can become.”
According to Professor of Chemistry Emily Neimeyer, Catherine was always committed to attending medical school, but suspects that Catherine’s experiences outside of her science classes were just as important in shaping her current success.
“Catherine received a minor in sociology and developed a keen interest in issues of social justice while at Southwestern, said Neimeyer. “She also participated in numerous undergraduate research experiences—both in our department and at other institutions—and those research opportunities formed an important foundation for her when she attended medical school at UT-Southwestern.”
To learn more about Catherine’s current research view her recent publication in Pediatrics.