Megan Huisingh-Scheetz, MD, MPH, EngAGE Principal Investigator, University of Chicago
How did your interest in health equity begin?
I grew up in a rural area in northwest Illinois. We had very few medical care options, specialties, or providers. I watched my grandparents age in our area and now am watching my parents age in my hometown, struggling to find the doctors they need. After college, I was an AmeriCorps volunteer for a year at a women’s health clinic that supported OB/Gyn care for uninsured women. I witnessed many health consequences of not having access to good insurance. Because of these experiences, I have dedicated my career to working in vulnerable populations and hope to improve care for marginalized groups.
What are your current research projects?
My research is focused on the care and support of frail adults. My work has two arms. One arm involves improving our assessment and detection of frailty over time. I study whether and how we might use noninvasive technology devices like wearable sensors to bring the medical evaluation to one’s home, increasing access to care. The second arm involves improving the delivery of healthy aging tools (e.g., education, programs, reminders, activities, social engagement, enjoyment) to the homes of older adults and those who care about them. I hope to strengthen the support we provide both older adults and their care partners and to support these important relationships.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I believe that we were all given a set of tools in our life tool box. Some of these tools were passed on through our genetics, some tools came in the form of the environmental supports we received through life, some tools came in the form of people who helped us or gave us opportunities, some tools came in the form of luck! These tools are not the same for everyone. I think it is truly our responsibility to maximize the use of the tools we have been fortunate to receive to make the world a better place and especially to elevate those who did not get the same tools that we did. I often make mistakes, and I fall short of these expectations regularly. But I am really proud that this is the mission that fuels me every day and the one that I prioritize.
Do you have any fun facts?
I grew up on a Christmas tree farm. My favorite place to be is in nature with my family. My favorite color (not surprisingly) is green. My husband is a pharmacist and also does research, so we often share grant deadlines in our house. I have the best kids on the planet: my daughter is turning 9 this week, and my son is 5. They are hilarious and different and teach me things all the time. I love board games, puzzles, movies, bonfires, hiking, organizing and getting carry-out. I am shy around new people and an empath through and through.