By Varshini Chellapilla
Hannah Cao, a Penn Program on Precision Medicine for the Brain (P3MB) research intern, has completed her time at the Penn Memory Center and will be moving on to Boston as a social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Cao was a candidate for the master of social work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice when she joined P3MB researcher and clinical psychologist Shana Stites, PsyD, MA, MS, on the Gender’s Impact on Cognition in Older Adults (CoGenT3) study.
“Hannah is amazing,” Dr. Stites said. “She showed up uncertain about research, then took to it like a fish to water. She quickly became the cornerstone of the COGENT3 study and has been a pleasure to mentor. She’s going to continue to do great at all she does.”
Cao studied the meaning of gender in today’s world and aimed to use her research to inform her practice as a future clinical social worker. She worked to create a new measure for gender (as an alternative to the Bem-Sex Role Inventory) that can be more comprehensive, efficient and accurate for current society.
“My parents are Vietnamese refugees with very traditional views of what gender means. So, I was raised into this traditional gender ideology and I knew that would affect the way I treated people in my practice as a social worker, where I’m inevitably going to work with many people who identify in many different ways. I don’t want my biases to affect their care,” Cao said.
In November, Cao presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference – Neuroscience Next (AAIC-NN) on how researchers measure gender and sex when conducting Alzheimer’s disease research. Read more about her presentation here.
“I’m really grateful to have worked here,” Cao said. “I think everyone at PMC is really smart, hard-working, and inspiring. Just knowing that there are these individuals who care so much about the older adult population and are involved in this work makes me feel a lot better about the future for this demographic and this field. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to have worked here.”