From nurses and clinicians weaving their heritage into their everyday work, to researchers seeking solutions for conditions that impact their community, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make meaningful contributions to the Stanford Medicine enterprise.
The story collection below shines a light on how the AAPI community strengthens Stanford Medicine and the broader world of biomedical science.
Unconventional Paths: From monasteries to medicine: Once a film major, Chwen-Yuen Angie Chen has taken many a turn in her life path. Now a clinical associate professor in primary care and population health at the Stanford School of Medicine, Chen spent five years at a Buddhist monastery in Nepal, where she was ordained as a nun. That experience helped influence how she interacts with patients who struggle with addiction, as Buddhism and medicine share a similar goal: To find freedom from suffering.
Keeping breast cancer secret: Clinical psychologist Ranak Trivedi, PhD, understands how social, cultural and interpersonal factors affect people with chronic illness, and how stigma can have a powerful influence over whether someone seeks treatment. Aware of stigma surrounding breast cancer among South Asians, Trivedi recently led a study that investigated the psychosocial needs of South Asian breast cancer survivors and their caregivers. She also experienced the stigma firsthand while supporting her mother during her battle with cancer. She said she pursued the study because so little is known about the care and support South Asian women need.
We Are Stanford Med: #ThisIsMyWhy with Anthony Pho: Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Anthony Pho, PhD, and his family immigrated to California when he was a child. Pho, a nurse practitioner at Stanford Health Care, provides primary care for LQBTQ+ patients; as a postdoctoral scholar he is a researcher on the PRIDE Study, a large-scale, longitudinal project that investigates the physical, mental and social health of LGBTQ+ adults. Pho says that, when he was a kid, he just wanted to fit in and to be like any other American family. But as an adult he's embracing his cultural ties and full identity.
Cheers to...No Alcohol Day: Che-Hong Chen, PhD, senior research scientist at the Stanford School of Medicine, studies something called alcohol intolerance, often known as "Asian flush." People of East Asian descent are more likely to carry a mutation that hinders alcohol metabolism and increases the risk of certain health conditions. Chen, who himself experiences alcohol intolerance, is on a mission to better understand the burdens of the mutation and to spread awareness to the populations predominately affected by it.
We Are Stanford Med: #ThisIsMyWhy with Grace Li: A student at the School of Medicine, Grace Li is a lover of science and of books as well as a longtime proponent for Asian representation in the arts. Inspired by the Stanford Medicine program Medicine and the Muse, Li authored a novel, Portrait of a Thief, which tells the story of Chinese American college students who embark on a series of heists at Western museums, stealing art originally looted from Beijing. The book, which Li describes as a sort of Chinese American Ocean's 11, became a New York Times bestseller and is in development for a TV show.
Breast cancer disparities in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders masked in larger 'Asian American' group: Radiation oncology resident Kekoa Taparra, MD, PhD, is a passionate advocate for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, whose medical data is often lumped in with other Asian populations. That kind of data aggregation can mask disparities in health outcomes for Pacific Islanders, something he showed through an analysis of breast cancer data. Taparra emphasizes that Asian Americans are not a monolithic group and that it's important to recognize differences in culture, geography, traditions and comorbidities between groups under the AAPI umbrella.