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Amy Zidron, Ph.D., OMS III

Two doctors in one

Amy Zidron, OMS III, paused medical school to pursue her Ph.D. through OU-COM’s Dual Degree Program

By Natalie Cammarata and Anita Martin

March 5, 2009

Since enrolling at OU-COM, Amy Zidron, Ph.D., OMS III, has studied the health of orphans in Kenya and childhood obesity in Appalachia. Her days of treating children as a family medicine physician lie ahead of her, but there’s one thing that separates her from most medical students: a dual-degree. 

For most, one postgraduate degree is plenty. Zidron, however, wanted more. The Cincinnati native came to OU-COM in 2003 to study medicine and earn her D.O., but fascinated by her biomedical sciences coursework and early research, she felt compelled to study further. By the end of her second year as a medical student, Zidron entered the Ph.D. program in Ohio University’s Department of Biological Sciences.

OU-COM’s Dual Degree Program allowed Zidron to put physician training on hold for three years while she completed her doctoral degree. When she finishes her clinical rotations in the spring of 2010, Zidron will become one of just five OU-COM graduates to take advantage of the program.

“It takes a special kind of student who’s willing to take an extra three years to complete a Ph.D. in the middle of a medical program,” said Zidron’s advisor, Gillian Ice, Ph.D., associate professor of social medicine.

For her doctoral dissertation, Zidron examined Luo orphans in Kenya, their nutritional status and depression risks. Zidron has traveled to Kenya three times for her research and to assist with Ice’s research. In fact, Ice’s early encouragement helped inspire Zidron to pursue her doctoral degree.

“Gillian showed me the clinical side of the Ph.D. degree, beyond the biomedical,” Zidron said. “That’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to work with people.” 

For medical students interested in pursuing a dual-degree path, Zidron emphasizes time management and persistency. “No one’s really standing over your shoulder, so don’t get lost in the shuffle,” she said.

Since coming to Ohio, Zidron has collected numerous awards for her research, including her third-place finish in an international medical research contest at an American Osteopathic Association seminar in October.  

Zidron is currently conducting her third-year rotations at Marietta Memorial Hospital in Marietta, Ohio. She is assisting with a research project relating to childhood obesity, but her central goals include finishing medical school and publishing research related to her dissertation. She is well on her way to meeting both goals. 

A paper based on Zidron’s doctoral research, “Does being an orphan decrease the nutritional status of Luo children?” was recently accepted for publication in the American Journal of Human Biology.  She has submitted a second paper, “Health and disease symptomatology,” to AIDS Care.

After her 2010 graduation, Zidron plans to pursue a pediatrics residency. She also hopes to eventually return to Kenya and continue her international work as both researcher and physician. 

Past D.O./Ph.D. recipients (biological sciences):

  • James Brent Oliver, D.O. (’93), Ph.D.
    • Advisor: Joseph Jollick, Ph.D.
  • Michael Murray, D.O. (’98), Ph.D.
    • Advisor: Linda Ross, D.O. (’07), Ph.D.
  • Mark Verdun, D.O. (’00), Ph.D.
    • Advisor: Ann Loucks, Ph.D.
  • Brian Yoder, D.O. (’00), Ph.D.
    • Advisor: Kenneth Goodrum, Ph.D.
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Last updated: 01/28/2016