Medical journal publishes senior Alexa Choy’s research article

Alexa+Choy+%2720+authored+a+research+paper+about+access+to+psoriasis+treatments+for+SKIN+Magazine%27s+March+2020+edition.+

Sydney Gallop '20

Alexa Choy ’20 authored a research paper about access to psoriasis treatments for SKIN Magazine’s March 2020 edition.

SKIN, The Journal of Cutaneous Medicine, published Sacred Heart Greenwich senior Alexa Choy’s research paper in the second issue of their fourth volume.  Alexa’s research paper, “Biologic Prescribing Patterns Among Mount Sinai Psoriasis Patients: Results of a Retrospective Chart Review,” focuses on prescribing patterns for biologics among Mount Sinai psoriasis patients.  Alexa fostered this project in her Science Research III Honors class under the guidance of Ms. Mary Musolino, Upper School Science Teacher.  

SKIN is a bi-monthly, peer-reviewed, online medical journal that aims to spread new dermatologic knowledge on all facets of cutaneous disease, according to jofskin.org.  SKIN accepted Alexa’s article March 5 and included it in their March 2020 edition. 

Alexa wrote the paper in the fall of her junior year, after collecting data during her summer internship in 2018 at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, New York.  SKIN’s editorial team revised the research paper three times over the course of a year to prepare it for publication. 

Alexa Choy ’20 is listed as the first author of her research article.  Courtesy of jofskin.org

“Having my paper finally published feels extremely rewarding after so much hard work and many revisions,” Alexa said.  “I am also so happy to finally get to share what I have learned with others and hopefully this paper can make a small contribution to shed light on a much larger issue.”

For her research, Alexa collaborated with two other authors, Mr. Jonathan Vebman, another high school student, and Mr. Christopher J. Yao, a medical student epidemiologist.  Alexa is listed as the article’s first author, followed by Mr. Vebman and Mr. Yao. 

For six weeks during their summer internship, Alexa and Mr. Vebman collected data from the practice.  Mr. Yao guided them through their medical research process and helped them understand their statistical findings. 

The group also met with Dr. Mark Lebwohl, the Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai, once a week to present their progress.

“The two other authors listed on the paper were integral aspects to the research and collaboration was essential,” Alexa said.  “Ms. Musolino was very helpful in working with me on the writing of the paper and the revisions. 

Ms. Musolino enjoyed helping and watching Alexa’s project develop over the course of two years.

“This is one of my favorite aspects of being a research teacher, to assist in the culmination of several years of research,” Ms. Musolino said. 

Alexa’s research assessed the relationship between the medicine prescribed to Mount Sinai psoriasis patients and the insurance policy of these prescriptions.  Her conclusion was that the prescribed medications, also known as biologics, vary by insurer, but the most frequently prescribed drug may not be the most effective.

Before Alexa began her internship, she spent time in her Science Research class reviewing literature in the area of psoriasis and its treatments.  This provided her with a background on the topic prior to collecting data. 

Alexa Choy ’20 presenting her research at the 2019 Connecticut STEM Fair.  Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino

“At my internship I worked with several doctors in the dermatology practice to identify what would be the most relevant and pressing issues to address and research,” Alexa said.  “Many of the physicians have struggled whether to prescribe newer, better, but more expensive medications or older, more reliable and cheaper medications to their patients. Most doctors find themselves prescribing medications that are not necessarily the most ideal because they will come at a significantly lower cost.”

After Alexa collected data during her internship, she used her time in Science Research to analyze it and create a poster to illustrate her findings.

“Once Alexa analyzed her data and formed conclusions, she created a completed research poster in class that she used for presentation at science competitions,” Ms. Musolino said.  “This is another skill that is worked on and developed within the research class, that is, how to effectively communicate your findings.”

With her research poster complete, Alexa entered her project in the Connecticut STEM Fair, the Regeneron Science Talent Search, and the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair.  Then, she began writing and editing her final research paper, later submitting it to SKIN for publication. 

After she graduates from Sacred Heart, Alexa hopes to continue exploring similar topics, both in college and beyond. 

“As of now, I am pre-med in a biology based major and I want to pursue a career involving public and health and healthcare reform,” Alexa said.  “Universal healthcare is an issue I feel very strongly about and this research has enabled me to see the direct effects of limited healthcare on patients, which I want to continue to learn about and take action in college.”

Featured Image by Sydney Gallop ’20