Dr. Jennifer York: Kurt Ian Wey, M.D., Pediatrics Award

Dr. Jennifer York said her desire to be a doctor "just kind of dawned on me."

She had planned to pursue a Ph.D. in research but missed the human contact of practicing medicine.

"I realized this would be the perfect combination -- my love of helping people in need ... and my love of science," said Dr. York, a June graduate of UT Southwestern Medical School.

Her dedication to her new profession earned her the 2005 Kurt Ian Wey, M.D., Pediatrics Award, which is given each year along with $2,500 to a fourth-year medical student in memory of the 1998 UT Southwestern graduate, who died in an automobile accident.

Dr. Jennifer York

The award, established by Dr. Wey's family and friends, is given to a student who shows empathy and compassion for sick children and a sense of humor in addition to a significant clinical knowledge.

Describing Dr. York's qualifications for the award, Dr. Charles Quinn, assistant professor of pediatrics, said, "Jennifer is keenly intelligent and exceptionally driven, yet she is humble, congenial and always professional."

She is "clearly a star who will excel as a pediatrician. I can imagine no one more fitting for this award than Jennifer," Dr. Quinn said.

The 2000 graduate of UT Austin said she appreciates UT Southwestern's approach to teaching, which she describes as exciting, as well as the hands-on experience afforded by Parkland Memorial Hospital. Dr. York's love of pediatrics surfaced when she spent a month in the hematology-oncology inpatient unit.

"That was probably the best month I've had since high school," she said. "It was exactly what I had been looking for because it was a nice environment, where people were friendly and supportive, and you can directly observe the application of science in the treatment of really sick kids."

She earned her M.D. with "distinction in research" by working with Dr. Helen Hobbs, chief of molecular genetics, on sterol transporters in the gut while pursuing her medical studies.

Dr. York and her fiancé, Dr. Chad Witt, will begin their residencies at Washington University in St. Louis.

Then she would like to do a fellowship in either hematology-oncology, critical care medicine or neonatology. Her final goal is a career at an academic medical center.