Rachel Siden Bioethics & Society alumna talks about her experience as study coordinator for the “Healthy Aging and Neighborhood Study” at UMass Medical School

Rachel Siden, Bioethics & Society alumna (class of 2017)

We are delighted to announce the career trajectory of Rachel Siden, Bioethics & Society alumna (class of 2017), at the intersection of bioethics, public health, ageing and society.
Rachel is currently a Study Coordinator for “The Healthy Aging and Neighborhood Study“at UMass Medical School in Worcester, in MA. The study, funded by the US National Institute on Aging, focuses on fall risk in the elderly, and investigates how neighbourhood environment and activity level are related to fall risk and overall health.

This is what Rachel says about her job and how the Bioethics & Society programme prepared her for the job:

“There is a lot of emphasis on social determinants of health in this study, which my bioethics degree in the GHSM  department more than prepared me for! My modules and coursework trained me to look beyond individual health to the social context that surrounds it, and I do that at my job every day: Could increased fall risk be linked to something as simple as living in a neighbourhood with neglected sidewalks or streets? How greatly does income level or living in an unsafe neighbourhood impact someone’s ability to get out of the house and exercise regularly?

I do recruitment by presenting the study in different places in the community, and then I do field visits where I meet with participants, give them surveys, and give them a device that measures and tracks their location and physical activity for a week.

I absolutely love my job, because I get to meet many interesting people and learn an incredible amount about aging. I am also learning about the process for running a study from start to finish and all that goes into it. I also love the people I work with, and my supervisor is a wonderful mentor to me by giving me projects that will help build my skills and my resume. Right now, we are working together on a paper on our methods for recruiting participants from minority populations. The principal investigator, Dr. Wenjun Li, had the very ambitious goal of recruiting at least 33% from minority populations, and we managed to exceed the goal and enrol a very racially diverse group of participants.

I have also just finished working on a small second study for the Massachusetts Department of Health surveying Massachusetts-based pharmacies, and I still occasionally write for the UK-based website BioNews [as you can see a list of my articles here].

I have recently decided to apply for my PhD, so I know this fall will be a busy one for me! I want to continue studying issues in bioethics and I potentially want focus on issues at the intersections of religion and medicine. I’ve already spoken to an administrator from a medical anthropology program that I am interested in, and she confirmed that my MA in Bioethics & Society will be an excellent plus.

Overall, I’m so thankful to have a job in the health research field that I enjoy, especially one that has hired me full-time and gives me all of the benefits and security that comes with it. For now, life is pretty wonderful, and I’m so thankful for my bioethics education and where it has brought me!”

Congratulations Rachel for everything you’ve achieved so far and best of luck  for your  upcoming PhD applications!

You can contact Rachel at:


and follow her on twitter at:


You can learn more about the Bioethics & Society programme here:


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