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"This Is Parkway" Digital Magazine


West High Senior Earns $15,000 Scholarship in National Science Competition

Marilyn Piccirillo, 18, a senior at Parkway West High School was awarded a $15,000 college scholarship in the Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the College Board.

Marilyn was among 60 high school students selected out of more than 560 entrants nationwide to present their projects to a top panel of epidemiologists in Washington D.C. and one of 12 National Finalists selected at the competition, in which nearly $500,000 in scholarships were awarded.

“The YES Competition is one of the nation’s most prestigious science competitions for high school students,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Marilyn’s impressive work demonstrates that a new generation of epidemiologists is emerging, which holds great promise for improving the health of our nation.”

The YES Competition is designed to spur students’ interest in the field of public health, specifically epidemiology. Epidemiology explores patterns of disease, illness and injury within populations with the goal of developing methods for prevention, control and treatment to improve health.

Students develop a research question and hypothesis about a health issue that concerns a group or groups of people, and then conduct research to analyze the subject and suggest potential ways to improve the problem based on their analysis.

Marilyn’s study, “Enterococcal Catheter-Associated Bloodstream Infections: Is Removal of the Catheter Necessary for Successful Management?” addressed the best management for blood stream infections that patients obtain while they are in the hospital being treated for other illnesses. She focused on infections of the blood stream with enterococcal bacteria, which contribute to approximately 10 percent of all hospital acquired infections. In addition, the rate of enterococcal blood stream infections associated with central venous catheters is steadily increasing.

Marlilyn examined data at Barnes Jewish Hospital regarding patients diagnosed with an enterococcal blood stream infection, and compared the outcomes of patients whose central venous catheters were removed to those where the intravenous lines were left in place. Her analysis suggests that removal of the catheter is associated with better results in terms of cure of the blood stream infection and other major medical complications.

“The YES Competition is designed to encourage students to explore careers in public health and epidemiology, but we know it does much more than that,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “Marilyn addressed a national and global health issue and we congratulate her on a successful project. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of her hard work in the future.”

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the quality of the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.

The College Board
The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board is composed of more than 5,600 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. Among its best-known programs are the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT® and the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®). For further information, visit www.collegeboard.com.