UMR Student Accepted Into American Gastroenterological Association Young Guts Scholars Program

Authored By: wells438 05/23/2024

Headshot of Joud SakorSecond-year UMR student, Joud Haj Sakor was recently accepted into the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Young Guts Scholars Program for their 2025 cohort. Among a pool of nationwide applications, she stands out as one of six students nationwide to be selected for this prestigious opportunity. Additionally, she is the first undergraduate student from the University of Minnesota system to be accepted into the program.

The AGA-Dr. Harvey Young Education & Development Foundation’s Young Guts Scholars program offers a fully funded and supported bench-side research project for an entire year at Mayo Clinic, along with a scholarship. Additionally, it provides the opportunity to attend the Digestive Disease Week conference in May 2025.

After hearing about the program, Haj Sakor was introduced to her mentor, Dr. Malhi Harmeet of Mayo Clinic through a series of introductions from UMR’s Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Success, Engagement and Equity Jenny Casper and Dr. Jean Fox a Gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic. 

Throughout winter break, Dr. Harmeet and Haj Sakor collaborated on creating her research proposal, personal statement and other application requirements. Despite the competitiveness of this project, Haj Sakor dedicated herself fully to the application process with determination, something she couldn’t have done without her mentors.

As an aspiring physician, Haj Sakor is excited about the mentorship and guidance she has received from Dr. Harmeet. 

“As both a physician and the research chair for the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Mayo Clinic, she embodies the intersections of both clinical practice and bench side research, aligning perfectly with my interests. Her guidance will be undoubtedly invaluable in shaping my future success,” shared Haj Sakor.

She also shares gratitude for Dr. Jean Fox who raised awareness about this program and extended her support to UMR students by facilitating connections with mentors.

“What excites me most about the program is the chance to lead my own research project focusing on Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Fatty Liver Disease (MAFLD), including its progressive subset, Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Steatohepatitis (MASH). These conditions are significant chronic liver diseases with global health implications. This project has the potential for uncovering novel therapeutics for targets for MASH, driving my eagerness to develop my own research questions, fail and learn from my mistakes and gain practical experience in a lab,” shared Haj Skor.

She encourages UMR Students to reach out to her for guidance on the application process if they are interested in applying to this program.