UC Berkeley student uses grant to conduct heart research, create summer program

Maha Siddiqui/Courtesy

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Rising campus junior Maha Siddiqui received a $10,000 grant from the Projects for Peace initiative to work on heart disease research and enrichment programs for underserved high school students during this summer.

With this money, Siddiqui, who studies molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, conducted research by using heart disease screenings on patients, created a free high school medical summer program and started developing a nonprofit organization to encourage more students in San Joaquin County to pursue a pre-med career path.

“Projects for Peace gave this grant to me because I’m addressing health disparity and heart disease in vulnerable communities,” Siddiqui said. “I’m from San Joaquin County, one of the most underserved communities in health care, because there aren’t enough doctors. I aspire to use this grant to uplift my community.”

In her section of the research, Siddiqui specifically addresses high blood pressure, known as hypertension, can lead to heart disease. After examining heart screening patients in San Joaquin County, she found that 63.7 percent of people screened were at risk for heart disease because they either had stage one or stage two hypertension.

Siddiqui also created a free summer medical program for high school students who are unable to afford programs that require payment.

“There’s many low-income minority populations in San Joaquin County, but there isn’t much access to higher education or commitment,” Siddiqui said. I decided to create this program because I wanted to bridge the gap between higher education and medicine by giving more high school students this opportunity and helping the families who don’t have enough money to spend on summer programs.”

Project for Peace’s $10,000 grant helped Siddiqui pay for the high school summer program’s materials. She has also hosted multiple events using the grant at which she invited speakers to talk about heart disease.

In addition, Siddiqui plans to soon start a nonprofit organization in San Joaquin County to encourage more students to pursue fields in medicine.

“The goal of the nonprofit is to help stimulate education in San Joaquin County, educate the youth and instill a passion for those students who are pre-med or want to be a doctor, as well as let them do outreach in their local community by helping the homeless population,” Siddiqui said. “Overall, this is all in an effort to lower the patient-provider gap … in San Joaquin County.”

Contact Selena Liu at [email protected].

Because of misinformation from a source, a previous version of this article stated that money from the Project for Peace initiative grant helped to pay for research equipment. In fact, the money did not cover equipment costs for the lab.

Because of misinformation from a source, a previous version of this article stated that Maha Siddiqui conducts research with Dr. Latha Palaniappan at Stanford University’s Center for Asian Health Research and Education. In fact, Siddiqui performs community health screenings as volunteer work.