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Student brings passion for parity to research 

The following article is the first in a series dedicated to National Women’s History Month and this year’s theme, “Women's Art and Vision.”

by Megan Fink
Public Relations
Christine Walters envisions a health care system with fewer disparities and greater access to preventative measures for all demographics. And the aspiring epidemiologist is helping to close the gap through research.
Walters, a student in the College of Graduate Studies, recognizes that socioeconomic factors are just one barrier to uniformity in health care. For example, some low-income women may only have insurance to cover hospital visits or are unaware of the importance of breast and cervical exams.
To combat this issue, Walters is working alongside Joan Cunningham, Ph.D., Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Epidemiology. They’re analyzing data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Best Chance Network, a program that promotes cancer screenings for the medically underserved. The database targets women of all races who are two times below the poverty level. Since the database creates an equal playing field with regard to income, Walters can evaluate characteristics according to race. One answer she hopes to find is why black women typically have more aggressive cases of breast cancer.
Walters also is looking through 30 years of data collected from regional and national studies to assess risks of cardiovascular disease for African Americans. As part of her dissertation, she’s focusing on information obtained from these long-term studies that included black participants, and seeing if existing risk-assessment tools apply to the African-American population.
A Presidential Scholar, Walters is testing her interdisciplinary skills in a national case competition to be held in Minnesota this April. After winning MUSC’s second annual Clinical Administrator Relationship Improvement Organization (Clarion) interprofessional case contest in November, Walters and two teammates representing MUSC will present their strategic solution to a fictitious situation.
In addition to her research, Walters also is active in humanitarian efforts on campus and beyond. As a former president and current member of MUSC’s Multicultural Graduate Student Association, she has participated in World AIDS Day activities, local beautification projects, and other service-oriented activities.
Walters has worked with charitable organizations in her home country of Jamaica, participating in school mentoring programs and making other contributions to the youth and elderly there. “I have a passion for children, though I have none of my own yet,” said Walters. “I wish to make a difference and help AIDS orphans. One of my ultimate goals is to work with children.”
Family and faith are what keeps Walters grounded. Her advice to women is to remember what motivates and inspires them. “Work is something you should enjoy, but at the end of the day, you have to go home and face yourself and your family,” Walters said. “That gives you the balance.”
Though Walters considers herself “off the front line” when it comes to health care, she’s not afraid of the spotlight; the stage is a second home. She was once  co-host of a children’s television program and a member of University Singers, a Jamaican musical group that toured internationally. She now sings in MUSC’s gospel choir and is highly involved in local theater productions.


Friday, March 7, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.