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CRS Scholar Thwing says ‘I do’ to public service career

By Jon Coomer
January 2010

Julie Thwing, M.D., MD ‘02, came to Vanderbilt based on its reputation as one of the best medical schools in the country, but she did not know that her decision and her selection as a Canby Robinson Society (CRS) Scholar would help shape her career path in public service.

The CRS scholarship allowed Thwing the opportunity to pursue an interest in international medicine and public health without the financial burden usually associated with medical school. The experience proved more than a financial boost to her career, however.

“The Canby Robinson Society was more than a scholarship,” she said. “The Canby Robinson Society is a group of people who care for you and truly want you to succeed. I had the great fortune to be mentored by Dr. Judson Randolph, (MD ‘53), while at Vanderbilt, and he remains a dear friend. I was very happy at Vanderbilt. It is a great combination of excellence and kindness.”

Before coming to Vanderbilt, Thwing graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a degree in biology. It was at Vanderbilt that she began developing her future in medicine. She honed her interest in helping others, volunteering as a tutor for Somali Bantu refugees in Nashville and traveling to Africa and Haiti to help people who were battling tuberculosis and HIV.

Thwing completed a residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Vanderbilt from 2002 to 2006 before moving to Atlanta to train at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS).

The EIS is a two-year post-graduate training program for health professionals interested in the practice of applied epidemiology.

“The EIS was originally created to train epidemiologists to recognize and investigate outbreaks, but it has evolved into the premier training program for epidemiology in the country,” she said. While in EIS, she served in the Malaria Branch, supporting public health interventions and conducting research in Niger, Angola, Kenya and Madagascar.

Many current and former EIS officers are leading the investigation of the current outbreak of H1N1 influenza.

After completing the EIS training program, Thwing remained in the CDC’s Malaria Branch as a medical epidemiologist. Thwing, who is board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics, is currently providing technical support for the President’s Malaria Initiative in Senegal, as well as supporting various research projects and malaria control initiatives.

Thwing misses living in Nashville, but admits that Atlanta is now “growing on her,” especially with the recent changes in her personal life. In 2008, she married Ed Hopkins, an engineer at Georgia Tech Research Institute. “I am very happy and am enjoying married life,” she said.

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