Future Physician Combats AIDS

Andrew Hale, a senior biochemistry major at Case Western Reserve University, already has logged plenty of time in the lab as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow and a student researcher at the Case Cardiovascular Center.

Future Physician Combats AIDS

But nothing he studied under the microscope prepared him for looking a patient in the eye and telling her she was HIV positive. Hale had been volunteering at the Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland for two and a half months when he had to break the news to a woman who was visiting Cleveland from Saudi Arabia.

"If there was a moment that would solidify the fact that I wanted to become a physician, it would have to be then," he says. "It was my first experience with a patient where I was their direct means of support."

Though he couldn't make the diagnosis go away, "being able to help her in whatever way I could in that moment was very fulfilling."

This January, Hale will venture even farther from the lab. He'll be heading to an area of Uganda where it is estimated that just one doctor serves 250,000 residents—half of whom are younger than 25.

There, in partnership with the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, he will help to set up an HIV testing and education center for orphaned schoolchildren. This fall he ran a 10K—his first—to raise funds to buy testing supplies for the school