Researcher of the Year Rachel Caskey
Distinguished Researcher, Clinical Science
Associate professor of medicine
Years at UIC: 11
What are your research interests?
I have had a long interest in studying ways to promote the health of women and children. My earlier work was focused on prevention of HPV-related disease. Over the past 6 years, I have focused on ways to modify systems of care to better support women and children. For example, many women do not receive timely postpartum care, though nearly all receive timely newborn care for the infant. We have studied multiple ways to improve women’s receipt of care during the postpartum period by aligning women’s care with the infant’s care.
How did you become interested in these topics?
Clinically, I have always been interested in how the health and well-being of women impacts the health and well-being of infants and children. Early in my career, I had a number of clinical experiences with young mothers that strengthened this interest.
What do you teach?
Clinically, I teach medical students and resident physicians. In addition, I teach public health students at the UIC School of Public Health in the Maternal Child Health Division.
How do you balance teaching and research?
We are all constantly balancing every aspect of work and life. I have no magic solution to this eternal balancing act, but over the years I have gotten better at: do what you best and outsource the rest.
What’s your advice to students who want to focus their future careers on research?
Patience and mentorship. Developing a research career takes time. There are more disappointments than along the way than most students anticipate. The majority of grants will not be funded. Most manuscripts will not be accepted by the first (or second) journal. The best-developed research plans may need major revisions once implemented. I have been fortunate to work with colleagues and mentors who have supported me through the disappointments and helped me advance my career.