Gregory Damhorst, MS1:
Student, Researcher, Leader, Serviceman
A Medical Scholar pursuing his doctorate in bioengineering, Greg, 23, joined the College of Medicine after completing his bachelor’s degree in Physics at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Greg’s dedication to community service and humanitarianism is reflected in both his work for and beyond the College.
“During my undergraduate studies I became very involved in the community volunteering regularly as an EMT with the Champaign County Christian Health Center and Hope Community Health Center - providing primary and specialty care to uninsured and underinsured people in the Champaign-Urbana area.”
Greg also served as event organizer and president for a RSO called Interfaith in Action, an organization that mobilizes students for service projects through different faith-based and community organizations. He continues to maintain a close relationship with the group as an advisor.
After graduating in December of 2009, Greg started a project with an organization called One Million Meals for Haiti. The movement culminated into a community-wide meal-packaging event in October of 2011 involving over 5,000 volunteers packaging 1,000,000 meals for earthquake survivors in Haiti.
“I spent most of the time documenting the event (video and photos) and just helping in miscellaneous ways. Since I was an organizer, I didn’t want to fill a spot where someone else could participate and I wanted to be available to help with extraneous things as needed.”
Greg’s “miscellaneous involvement” with the October food drive included the not-so-easy task of creating and launching the website MealsofHopeCU.org, which established a means for individuals to donate to the project online. The site raised a total of $13,000, and the extra money will be put toward a second food drive.
“It will probably be another 54,000 meal event, but if the donations are significantly higher for next year’s event we may be able to do more.”
Greg’s ambitions don’t stop there. His current research for the College of Medicine involves using micro- and nanotechnology for blood analysis and infectious disease diagnostics to develop a low-cost, easy-to-use device for monitoring AIDS patients. The technology will have considerable impact in monitoring the progression of the disease during therapy in areas with limited resources.
“My faith teaches me that serving others is an essential component of understanding the world and my place in it. I believe… that when others are in need, it’s my responsibility to help. So it seems only natural to me to be involved in the community in my current home.”
Greg is also leading the Global Health Initiative, a 2011-2012 academic year project that fosters research and exposure to global health issues for graduate students and faculty.
Written by Payal Shukla