Madi Wahlen

Madi Wahlen, MD/PhD student

Investigates impact of drug shortages

“Madison is one of the hardest working students I have ever worked with, and is incredibly passionate about addressing disparities and treatment access issues among patients with cancer. “-Mary Charlton, professor

Rochester, Minnesota

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Mary Charlton, PhD, professor, Department of Epidemiology, and director and principal investigator of the Iowa Cancer Registry

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP- MD/PhD program), Department of Epidemiology; expected grad: May 2026

Please describe your research:
I study the impact of drug shortages on bladder cancer treatment and outcomes. I investigate potential disparities in access to an important bladder cancer drug. I also study how physicians treat their patients when they don’t have access to this drug, and which alternative drugs produce the best outcomes for patients.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
This research can help inform resource allocation to improve access to this important bladder cancer drug. It can also inform us about effective alternatives treatments for bladder cancer during this ongoing shortage, and help physicians make decisions about treatment to ultimately improve patient outcomes.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
I was able to start participating in research at the University of Iowa immediately. I did a research rotation with Dr. Mary Charlton (epidemiology) and Dr. Brian Link (internal medicine) during the summer prior to my first year of medical school studying conditional survival among patients with mantle cell lymphoma. Since then, I have participated in a wide variety of research projects within the Department of Epidemiology.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
Being involved with research has helped me become a more creative and critical thinker. It has increased my confidence in myself and what I am capable of. It has also been an incredible networking opportunity, and I have met so many kind and inspiring mentors who are helping me achieve my goals. Mostly though, it has just been a really enjoyable experience and has allowed me to pursue my own interests and ask questions about things that matter to me and will prepare me for my future career.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?
I plan to pursue residency training in urology, and ultimately to obtain a tenure-track faculty position at an academic medical center. I plan to combine clinical research in cancer epidemiology with a clinical career taking care of patients with urologic cancers.

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