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Student Spotlight: Lily McMorrow (‘30)

A Series from the Department of Health and Clinical Outcomes Research

Lily McMorrow is completing the health outcomes research Ph.D. portion of the M.D./Ph.D. dual degree in the School of Medicine at Saint Louis University.  

woman with curly hair
Lily McMorrow, Ph.D. ('30)

McMorrow recently shared how her undergraduate justice and peace studies degree influenced her decision to study health outcomes, reflected on meaningful experiences from the program so far and provided thoughts on how physicians can incorporate data into their practice. 

What inspired you to pursue a health outcomes Ph.D. along with your M.D. degree?

I studied justice and peace studies for my bachelor’s degree at Georgetown University and came to understand that research, and especially research in medicine, is built on a historical foundation of exploitation and inequity. Working towards health equity, then, requires intentionally deconstructing structural inequality in the research process. I joined this program because it will provide me with the rigorous training necessary to spearhead research efforts with an eye towards health equity at every step of the research process. 

Can you share a memorable experience or project from your time in the program?  

Attending Health Care Systems Research Network (HCSRN) to present was an incredible opportunity to form connections in the field and hear input on my research ideas. I had the opportunity to present my ongoing work evaluating demographic changes and autoimmunity in gastric cancer. This project leveraging AHEAD's virtual data warehouse was an incredible opportunity to collaborate with molecular microbiology and immunology at SLU and building a research network across institutions. 

How has the program/university enhanced your professional development?  

The opportunity to work in professional teams across many disciplines has given me exposure to the breadth and depth of outcomes research application. Collaborating with Dr. Jason Doherty as an AHEAD consultant has allowed me to work with our psychiatry department. Through this, I have built insight into current areas of interest in the field and a better understanding of the role of outcome research and the translation to clinical psychiatry. 

How has the support and mentorship from faculty and peers influenced your academic and personal growth? 

The faculty have so much experience working across disciplines and their input and advice is invaluable. Their mentorship and advice on navigating courses, research, and balancing work with life has been essential to my development as a student and researcher.   

How can physicians better utilize data to inform their practice?  

While most of the data we work with is group or population level, there is an increase in individual-level clinical tools that produce data that can inform clinical practice. For example, patient-reported outcomes have become more widely used and the development of symptom-specific or disease-specific tools can make these measures more appropriate for clinical use. 

What is something you’ve learned in your Ph.D. program that you wish medical students/physicians knew?  

As a physician involved in research, it is important to have a solid foundation of research methodology and statistical analysis to inform your approach to a research problem and strengthen your communication with other members of your research team. 

About the health outcomes research, Ph.D.

Saint Louis University’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Health Outcomes Research is a program that trains researchers in the areas of health outcomes research, health services research and health data science to meet the changing needs of the health care system.

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About the Department of Health and Clinical Outcomes Research

The mission of the Department of Health and Clinical Outcomes Research is to serve as the collaborative bridge between divisions, departments, and colleges/schools across medicine and the health sciences to support methodologically rigorous research to solve complex health problems. The Department of Health and Clinical Outcomes Research is a scholarly community of faculty, staff and students committed to strengthening the delivery and outcomes of medical care through education and training programs, innovative research, and consulting services.