Nutrition Graduate Students Participate in Rally for Medical Research

The Rally for Medical Research was formed to raise awareness about the need for medical research and increased investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve health, promote progress, and save more lives. On September 23, 2021, research advocates held a virtual rally with House and Senate offices to urge Congress to make funding for NIH a national priority.

Faculty and students represented Meredith College at The Rally for Medical Research. Dr. Rebecca Hagedorn-Hatfield and her Food and Nutrition graduate students were able to meet with Senate and House offices throughout the day, including Senator Richard Burr and Senator Thom Tillis. Both of North Carolina’s senators have shown support for NIH funding. Most recently, Senator Tillis has co-sponsored the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act – a bipartisan legislative effort to support researchers who have been impacted by the pandemic. 

“During the Rally, I was able to tell my personal story about my best friend and sister-in-law, Caitlin, who has a rare form of hereditary kidney disease,” said Meredith graduate student Danae Gross. “Although she has already received a kidney transplant, current research projects are aimed at finding ways to slow the progression of the disease. This research could impact her children’s future since each child has a 50% chance of inheriting this disease. Participants and Congress members showed genuine empathy and expressed the need for ongoing funding for NIH research. I rally for Caitlin. Who do you Rally for?”

The Rally was also a learning experience for Meredith students, said Assistant Professor Rebecca Hagedorn-Hatfield.

“The Rally for Medical Research provided students the opportunity to observe and participate in advocacy efforts. The ability to partake in civic engagement through advocacy is a skill the students can use in both their personal and professional lives. We are all impacted by medical research in some way and multiple students were able to share stories of loved ones who have benefited from advances in medical treatments,” said Hagedorn-Hatfield. “Further, many of the students aspire to become, or already are, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN), thus their advocacy for continued and sustained investment in medical research will allow for new innovations in medical nutrition therapies and move the field of dietetics forward. I am incredibly proud of the professionalism and passion the students displayed during their virtual Capitol Hill visits.”

Melyssa Allen

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