A MatCH made in Heaven

Modupe Iroju-Williams is a master’s student who is part of the program’s first cohort. She rotated in Joanna MacLean’s lab in Fall 2013 and from this experience, she knew she met her match in MacLean.MacLean, a pediatric respirologist, is equally pleased with MatCH and working with Iroju-Williams.


“The appeal of the MatCH is that there is a slightly higher GPA required and with that you are possibly attracting more capable students,” said MacLean.


MatCH is also appealing because of the funding it offers. It covers stipend for the first semester for the student and then covers half the stipend for the rest of the first year and the following year of the program. Importantly, MatCH also pays international differential tuition fees. 


The graduate program offers MacLean a way to connect with more graduate students.


“As a clinician scientist I teach medical students, I’m not teaching undergraduate students. You don’t have the same contacts. I think having more opportunities in terms of making connections with students is a good idea,” said MacLean.


After rotating through three labs Iroju-Williams chose MacLean’s lab.


“The rotations provided an opportunity to explore and definitively decide on the specific area of research where my interests,” said Iroju-Williams.

Iroju-Williams completed her MD degree in Hungary and her background is in patient care. MacLean’s research is clinical, working with patient samples. Being new to research, she felt selecting a clinical project made the most sense.

She selected MacLean as her mentor because she felt she could learn from the wealth of experience MacLean had with regards to balancing clinical care, research and academia. Iroju-Williams goal is to get into a residency program, and step into her research interests. Ultimately she looks forward to mentor in academia.


"With Joanna's experience as a clinician-scientist, I regard her as a pacesetter. She will help make my journey shorter in terms of paths to take. It will help me tread in unfamiliar zones with confidence because she has already gone ahead of me on a similar path," says Iroju-Williams adding that, “Nonetheless, with a great deal of flexibility as everyone has a unique path to tread.”


MacLean’s project is investigating pre-term infants who were exposed to inflammation before they are born as well as in the first few weeks of life. 


“We are looking to see whether that inflammation has an impact on how their hearts and lungs are working at 8 to 12 years of age,” said MacLean.


The project has already collected the outcome data at the 8 to 12 years age.


For her role on the project, Iroju-Williams has been reviewing patient charts to collect more information about what happened in the nursery to about 103 infants. She will help link that to the data already collected.

“We have lung function and exercise data at 8 to 12 years old age. Modupe’s going to try and see if there’s any association between those who have had more or less inflammation early on and how their hearts and lungs are doing right now,” said MacLean.


The project is opening Iroju-Williams’ eyes to the world of research.


“In medical school the learning curve is pretty much set in stone. I find that with research you have to keep an open mind, you ask questions that either lead you to asking more questions or to answers,” said Iroju-Williams.


She adds that, “I am learning the very basics tools needed in the methodology of research at this phase of my project.  It is important to know the foundational concepts of research which Joanna has been helping me with.”