MOLA-MRF Scholars 2024 Cohort

Félix Fernández-Penny

Félix graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University and completed his Post-Baccalaureate Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a first-year MD/MBA candidate at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and Booth School of Business. Félix began his career in consulting/brand strategy for healthcare and pharmaceutical clients, designing targeted approaches to reach unique groups including patients, providers, and caregivers in ways sensitive to their interests, attitudes, and challenges. Most recently, Félix spent three years at the University of Pennsylvania / PennMedicine overseeing a broad portfolio of industry and investigator-initiated clinical and device trials. He is motivated by innovation at the intersection of business and medicine, Félix is interested in the development of technology-enabled solutions for issues affecting healthcare access and delivery, in particular those concerning culturally concordant patient engagement for at-risk communities.

José Alberto Figueroa

José Alberto Figueroa was born and raised in San Juan, PR, and currently resides in Chicago, IL with his family. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis where he studied Anthropology with a focus in Global Health and the Environment, and he is currently in his third year of medical school at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. José Alberto is particularly interested in the development of evidence-based practices and standardized guidelines that healthcare institutions can adapt to foster more access and better quality of physician-patient language concordant care for Spanish speakers. He hopes to enter the field of Pediatrics with sub-interests in Critical Medicine and Emergency Medicine. José Alberto’s interests include playing volleyball, cooking – particularly typical Puerto Rican cuisine, trivia, and exploring the city of Chicago!

Christian Fernando Guerrero-Juárez

Christian Fernando Guerrero-Juárez was born and raised in Morelia, Michoacán, México. He emigrated to Southern California in his teen years. He received dual B.S./B.A. degrees in Biology/Biochemistry from California State University, San Bernardino, and completed M.S./Ph.D. degrees in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine where he studied the mechanisms of cellular reprogramming and skin regeneration. He is currently a second-year medical student in the Physician-Innovator Training Program at Carle Illinois College of Medicine in the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He currently serves as the Research and Grants Director of Avicenna Community Health Center and has recently established the Skin and Wound Care Community Clinic – a student-run health clinic that is committed to delivering culturally inclusive skin and wound care services for uninsured/underinsured individuals in Urbana-Champaign and neighboring counties. He is an aspiring clinician-scientist interested in dermatology, aiming to pursue a career in academic medicine.

 Luis Antonio López Rodríguez

Luis Antonio López Rodríguez is a second-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He is the son of two Mexican immigrants and was born and raised in Illinois. Learning of family’s health experiences motivated him to pursue a career as a physician with a focus on identifying and eliminating barriers that impact the care of Latinx communities. During his undergraduate career at the University of Notre Dame, Luis worked alongside various community organizations to increase knowledge about stroke among Spanish-speaking individuals. As a medical student, his research projects include assessing the diversity of providers and accessibility of culturally sensitive resources for Latinx patients offered by liver transplant centers and investigating disparities in access to diabetes technology for patients with type 1 diabetes.

Sarah Medina-Aguirre

Sarah Medina-Aguirre is from Anaheim, California, and received her B.S. in Global Disease Biology at the University of California, Davis. She is currently a second-year medical student at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine (UICOM). Raised in a Peruvian immigrant family, Sarah is driven by her cultural roots to advocate for the Latinx community as a future physician and researcher. She is deeply committed to advancing social justice in health care and fostering diversity in the medical education field. Sarah is a current Urban Medicine scholar at UIC where she has focused on teaching accessible community health education classes for uninsured Spanish-speaking patients at CommunityHealth. She has served in various leadership roles in student organizations such as Co-President of the Latino Medical Student Association at UICOM. Additionally, she has research experience as an NIH T35 Research Fellow with the UIC Institute of Minority Health & Hispanic Community Health Study/ Study of Latinos. Sarah is grateful to be joining the MOLA familia to expand on her professional skills and enhance her research background in medical education.

Karla Murillo

Karla Murillo is an MD MPH candidate at the UCLA Program in Medical Education – Leadership and Advocacy (PRIME-LA) program which is dedicated to fostering physician-advocates. She was raised in Bakersfield, CA, and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Early on in medical school, she discovered ophthalmology through the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Minority in Ophthalmology Mentoring (MOM) Program. She was inspired to pursue a career in ophthalmology, blending clinical practice with public health and epidemiology. As a MOLA-MRF scholar, she will continue developing a community-based research study, “Examining Mobile Health Applications to Extend Access to Ophthalmic Care to Underserved Rural Communities” in collaboration with the UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic and the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Karla aspires to become an ophthalmologist and continue to engage in ophthalmic epidemiologic research to impact policy and provide equitable vision care to underresourced communities.

Isabella (Isa) Pérez Pecchio

Isa Pérez Pecchio is a 2nd-year medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UICOM) at Chicago, and was selected as a MOLA-MRF Scholar awardee for a second consecutive year! She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and has lived most of her life in the United States. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Neuroscience Specialization and a minor in English from Stony Brook University. As an undergraduate, she use her bilingual skills and experiences as a first-generation Venezuelan-American in primary care clinics and emergency medicine settings. During her gap years, Isa was a senior research coordinator for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s clinical trials department. Her experiences in research and healthcare included working with Spanish-speaking patients living with chronic illnesses in her community, further developing a passion for language concordance in healthcare and longitudinal patient care. In medical school and as a volunteer at free clinics in Chicago, she is focused on improving mental health services in underserved communities. As a MOLA-MRF Scholar this year, she plans to build on her quality improvement project and improve the current mental health resources provided to uninsured or underinsured patients. Isa hopes to pursue psychiatry as a specialty and dedicate her career to providing access to mental healthcare services in communities affected by health inequities and structural racism, taking action to ensure patients are receiving equitable care.

Dianna Polanco

Dianna Polanco is from Los Angeles, California and her family is both from Mexico and El Salvador. She is a current 2nd year at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Before starting medical school, she worked as a Research Coordinator for the Adolescent Trials Network working with Black and Latinx LGBTQIA+ youth in LA County providing STI and HIV prevention care. This experience ignited her passion for health equity research. She is passionate about health justice, mentorship, and mitigating bias in medicine. She is currently interested in pursuing a research project on disparities in alcohol use disorder treatment services in the Latinx community. Her hobbies include reading, eating good food, cooking, and cuddling with her dog Lily.

Jacqueline Pujol

Jacqueline Pujol is a third-year medical student at Georgetown University School of Medicine and has a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts within medicine. Jacqueline was born and raised in Northern Virginia with Peruvian and Cuban parents. Before medical school, Jacqueline conducted a global health research project on metabolic health and lifestyle medicine in Lima, Peru. She also helped implement PTSD and COVID-19 vaccine research. In medical school, Jacqueline has been involved with health equity-driven research helping develop culturally appropriate mental health interventions and investigating disparities between insured and uninsured populations. Jacqueline aspires to become an independent physician-scientist committed to increasing research on minority health and reducing the rate of preventable, chronic disease among Latino populations. Jacqueline foresees herself working in the clinical medicine, DEI research, and academic medicine fields. She currently serves as chief development officer for the Latino Medical Student Association Northeast regional board.

Patricio Ruano

Patricio Ruano is a first-generation college and medical student born and raised in Los Angeles to proud Guatemalan and Salvadoran parents. He currently attends Michigan State University – College of Human Medicine as a 3rd year medical student and is a Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved Certificate Program student. His research experience includes wet lab research during undergraduate and now in medical school he has been involved in public health and policy research. His proudest works include examining how tuberculosis screening guidelines must be altered when working with migrant communities and medical education work in the field of Addiction Medicine. His research goals include examining barriers to Latinos receiving medication assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorder, and exploring interventions to increase the number of Latinos receiving this treatment. His career goals include working in the field of Addiction Medicine in primarily Latinx communities. Patricio strives to become a medical director for a network of Latinx and migrant-serving clinics.

Daniel Salazar Mollinedo

Daniel Salazar Mollinedo was born in Alajuela, Costa Rica, to Guatemalan parents. His journey led him to the United States from Guatemala when his mother immigrated to Washington State with him and his sisters at the age of seven. Daniel is currently living in Chicago, Illinois, attending the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine as a first-year medical student. During his undergraduate years, he performed basic science research, investigating cocaine addiction in rat models. Now, with aspirations of evolving into a health outcomes researcher, Daniel aims to focus on outcomes meaningful to patients, particularly in the field of Internal Medicine and Latine health. His unique background as a DACAmented immigrant and experiences in healthcare underscore his commitment to contributing meaningfully to the medical field.

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