2014 Equity Intern: Hai Dao

Dao_Hai_1_150A current freshman at Oregon State University, Hai Dao knows how much hard work it takes to excel in school. With a 4.0 GPA, Hai is utilizing his college education to the fullest.

Hai emigrated with his family from Vietnam right before he started high school. At that time, he did not know how to read, write or speak English. So, in addition to his high school classes, he enrolled at Clackamas Community College to study English.

While working hard to succeed academically, Hai also found time to serve as a Vietnamese Medical Interpreter and Translator for Telelanguage and AccessOnTime, helping immigrants to join America's diverse community. "I empathize how hard it is to learn a second language, so I wanted to share what I have with others," he says. As a volunteer teacher at Van Lang Vietnamese School, he helps students learn how to read, write and speak the Vietnamese language, as well as understand the culture.

Through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute summer internship program at OHSU with Matt Lattal, Ph.D., Hai became drawn to how drugs and alcohol affect human memory. Dr. Lattal commends Hai's work ethic, lauding the student for being "dependable and careful… enthusiastic and always willing to ask the big-picture questions."

Hai's determination to excel in school has paid off. Some of his biggest honorable accomplishments were being Clackamas High School's "Student of the Year in Math & Science" and being ranked in the top 10 of all math students in Portland. This accomplishment carried him to the State Mathematical competition at Oregon State University. Hai also has received multiple scholarships and awards, including a four-year scholarship as part of the prestigious and highly selective Ford Scholars Program that helps make a college education a reality for students who demonstrate great academic promise.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Hai plans to attend medical school. His inclination to become a doctor stems from his passion to serve others. "I want to become a person who is actively involved in treating patients with great care. It is self-rewarding to know that I took care of someone and to give patients a sense of reassurance," says Hai.

This summer, Hai is working with his research mentors, Detlev Boison, Ph.D., Ursula Sandau, Ph.D., and clinical mentor, Mary Tanski, M.D., in Neurology and Emergency Medicine respectively. Hai's research project involves studying whether adenosine kinase (ADK) in granule neurons regulates injury induced seizures and subsequent epileptogenesis. ADK in granule neurons may affect epileptogenesis by changing the rate of proliferation of neuronal cells. Hai is hoping that the research project could help create a new treatment to help people with epilepsy by increasing or decreasing the amount of ADK in granule neurons.  

Besides working in the lab, Hai also spend time shadowing his clinical mentor, Dr. Tanski, every week in the adult or pediatric emergency department.

"Through the shadowing experience, I've found that my biggest goal for now and the future is to help people stay healthy and happy," he says.

Interested in learning more about the Summer Equity Internship Program? Email David Martinez for more information.

Posted on July 8, 2014. Photo and write-up by Maileen Hamto.