Dr. George Speck, alumnus of SMHS Class of 1941, generously established an annual award in loving memory of his first wife, Doris DeFord Speck. Dr. David Speck, continuing in this tradition on behalf of his parents, will honor a medical student, who, in the words of his father will be: “a wonderful, caring doctor”, and who has demonstrated exceptional aptitude for a dedication to biomedical research. A faculty committee formed by the SMHS Office of Research chooses a 3rd or 4th year medical student who best embodies these characteristics following nominations from the faculty.
The 2023 recipient of the Speck student research award is Jaya Manjunath. Jaya has an exceptional record of research accomplishment throughout her years at medical school. Jaya’s research, under the mentorship of Jonathan Silverberg, has primarily focused on characterizing how the clinical features of dermatitis vary during aging. Her record of productivity is documented by 11 first author publications, as well as several invited presentations at the American Academy of Dermatology and the Society for Investigative Dermatology. She has also taken on a national leadership role as student lead in the Geriatric Dermatology Expert Resource Group and is helping to develop the program for the American Academy of Dermatology-associated Geriatric Dermatology meeting.
Of particular note, Jaya has also demonstrated a sustained commitment to geriatric medicine outside of her scholarship. Beginning as a high school student she has been involved in community service projects helping older adults. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Seniors with Skills program, which is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to improve cognitive health of seniors by combating social isolation and loneliness in nursing homes. This program recruits and matches volunteers with retirement residences in both Canada and the United States.