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Duquesne Graduate Student Receives Fulbright to Conduct Childhood Obesity Research in Lithuania

A post-baccalaureate student receiving a master’s degree in health management systems from Duquesne University will conduct a childhood obesity study in Lithuania on a Fulbright Scholarship.

Ryan Busha, who graduated on May 6, will head to Lithuania in September on the prestigious Fulbright. For the next nine months, he will examine childhood obesity with Professor Apolinaras Zaborskis at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences.

Busha, who plans ultimately to be a cardiologist or endocrinologist, proposed a pilot project, Transcultural Childhood Obesity: Comparing U.S. and Lithuanian

Trends, working to uncover why Lithuanians have not fallen into the growing pattern of childhood weight problems.

“The reason I chose Lithuania was that they’re a Westernized country, a developed country, but their rates of obesity are really low compared to the rest of the world,” said Busha, drawing on his Duquesne background in health policy. “My hope is I go over there and find something—maybe a cultural difference, maybe that they’re more active during the day, maybe they do not have availability to fast food. I’m hoping any difference I find over there would be applicable to the United States.”

Busha, the youngest of three boys, has been interested in medicine since his father had a cardiac bypass when he was 7. “Just the experience of that, growing up and seeing him deal with issues related to health care” propelled Busha’s dreams of being a physician.

In 2009, Busha received a bachelor of science in biology from SUNY-Geneseo and sought out the post-baccalaureate pre-medical certificate program at Duquesne to improve his GPA for medical school.

“He was a top student in the class; it was effortless,” said Dr. Sarah Woodley, assistant professor in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. “He had a calm and confident attitude. When I asked him why he was not already at medical school, he said that as an undergraduate, he really didn’t know how to study and his GPA was not as high as he would like. Obviously, by the time he got to Duquesne, he had figured it out. He is naturally bright and motivated.”

Duquesne’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical certificate program is geared toward students with undergraduate degrees, within or beyond the sciences, who do not meet medical school pre-requisites or don’t feel they are competitive. Through the program, they build their life sciences background, explained Dr. Kyle Selcer, director of the pre-medical professions and the post-baccalaureate pre-medical programs.

After finishing the pre-medical program, Busha stayed at Duquesne another year to complete the master’s in health management systems, which includes health information processes, health record maintenance, ethics and other topics.

The fact that he did not give up prompted his eventual success, said Woodley. “Through persistence, he was able to apply to the Fulbright program,” she said.

In the summer between the two Duquesne programs, Busha obtained an internship at the University of Rochester Medical Center, working with a pediatrician on a childhood obesity prevention pilot project, the foundation of his Fulbright proposal.

The Fulbright program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is the largest and one of the most noted international exchanges for students and young professionals.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.