Rachel Wu graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in Computational Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Her interest in health care services research stemmed from her experiences in her Medical Sociology and Health Care Management classes, when she learned about the significant disparities between the ways patients from different demographics are treated. She was inspired by the far-reaching impacts, macro-economically and on a personal basis, resulting from health care services research. Currently, she is a Research Assistant at Penn Medicine.
During SUMR, she worked with Dr. Austin Bean to use a neural network for natural language processing to parse through infant medical records from CHOP to identify what and how much infants are eating. The goal was to identify any correlation between the amount and type of food infants receive and later health outcomes. Wu also worked with Dr. Ari Friedman, MD, PhD on a project that investigated the management of abdominal pain in emergency departments (ED) across the U.S., specifically exploring the outcomes of older adults presenting with general abdominal pain on busy days in the ED compared to patients with more highly prioritized diseases and symptoms. The goal of the project was to assess the impact of hospital policies that incentivize faster care and streamlined protocols for prioritized diseases on patients who have abdominal pain.
Outside of academics, Wu enjoys giving back to the global and local community. She was the President of the Penn undergraduate chapter of One for the World, an effective altruism club dedicated to changing charitable giving to end extreme poverty. Before the pandemic, she and the club raised over $19K in recurring annual pledges to be distributed to the most effective non-profit charities fighting extreme poverty. She also volunteered with a second-grade class at the Andrew Jackson School in Philadelphia, assisting the students with their reading comprehension. Additionally, she volunteered at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Philadelphia, where she interviewed veterans and transcribed their life stories, through the My Life, My Story program.