Summer Program Opens Door to Careers in Medicine

Peace Akinkunmi is excited about a career in medicine helping individuals in underserved communities lead healthier lives. “I am focusing on the clinical and research aspects of pathology so I can contribute to preventive care as well as testing for active diseases,” he said.

Peace Akinkunmi

A rising junior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Akinkunmi was one of nine undergraduate students conducting hands-on research through the Student Training in Research Program (STIR) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Participants in the seven-week summer program are selected for their research interests and intention to apply to medical school.

“I am really enjoying my first opportunity to conduct clinical research,” said Akinkunmi. “This summer program is well organized and highly engaging, with plenty of support for the students.”

Peace’s parents came to the U.S. from Nigeria before Peace and his younger brother, Praise, were born.

“We felt that the one thing we could hand them is education and, like a tree, he’s growing and branching out on his own,” said his father, Ademola Ayo Akinkunmi, B.S.N., M.H.A., P.M.P., director of patient care services, Medical Surgical/Telemetry at Jackson Health System. “It’s pretty cool, knowing that he is putting everything he’s got into this. It’s what he wants to do. For Peace, there is no going back. If your dream is big enough, no obstacle is a problem.”

An Innovative Project

Student Training in Research Program
Akinkunmi and fellow STIR students Carolina Moreira and Brandon Lee display the MIL box, a project they’re advancing that captures and catalogs data of study participants.

For his STIR research project, Akinkunmi was part of a team looking at how sleep can affect cardiovascular health in Hispanic and Haitian-American communities.

“Using diagnostic tests, we can measure the relationships between sleep, blood pressure and cardiovascular health,” he said, adding that this innovative project could lead to important insights.

“Peace is an amazing young man,” said his mentor, Azizi A. Seixas, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; director, The Media and Innovation Lab; associate director, Center for Translational Sleep and Circadian Sciences; and interim chair, Department of Informatics and Health Data Science. “He wants to make biodiagnostics more accessible so clinicians can do a better job of assessing individuals’ health before they become ill.

“This proactive approach can capture different clinical endpoints more frequently over time, allowing us to track disease progression with a personalized approach to population health. With his interest in medicine and future training, Peace can be part of a new generation of researchers and clinicians who can bring innovative practices to the field of pathology.”

Tags: Center for Translational Sleep and Circadian Sciences, Dr. Azizi Seixas, health disparities, medical education, sleep study, Student Training in Research Program (STIR)