Capstone Project Spotlight: Meg Gaytko '21 and Northwell Health and the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research

Author: Meg Gaytko

Meg Gaytko (ESTEEM '21)Meg Gaytko (ESTEEM '21)

The number of different drugs, medications, and treatments on the market is so high that it’s difficult to even begin counting. However, they all have one thing in common: they needed to go through an extensive clinical trial process before they could be approved and available to the public. So whether you take a collection of daily medications or only need the occasional Ibuprofen, you are directly benefiting from clinical trials. 

This is where my capstone project with Northwell Health and the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research comes into play. Northwell is the largest healthcare provider in New York, and Feinstein operates as the center of research for the health system. When it was time for the capstone matching process, I was immediately interested in this project. I’ve always been very involved in both business and STEM, but more importantly, I’ve always been deeply passionate about healthcare and medicine.

I grew up in a largely medical family, and have always known that I wanted to get involved in the field in some way. I quickly crossed off the “doctor” route when I realized that I have a tendency to faint when I see blood (that career path wouldn’t have gone very well!). I readjusted my plans and aspirations to be more on the business side of healthcare. Northwell/Feinstein has been the perfect fit for me thus far, as it is a perfect combination of my background and my passions. 

The overarching goal of this project is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the clinical trial processes at Northwell/Feinstein. As of now, my main focuses have been around patient recruitment/enrollment, data organization, training and incentives for researchers, and funding. To get to this point, I have been interviewing a variety of people from Northwell/Feinstein. I currently have 6 interviews completed, and the end goal for the year is 50. So it’s safe to say that the scope of this project will likely fluctuate as more information is gathered and more connections are made!

Despite the minor tweaks and readjustments that are a given part of any project, the main desired outcome will remain the same: to ultimately improve the level of patient care that Northwell patients receive as a result of these improved processes. This will be a challenge in and of itself, as Northwell is already an impeccable health system! (Side note: If you haven’t seen Lenox Hill on Netflix, you should! It’s all about one of the hospitals within the Northwell health system, and is both extremely fascinating and powerful). However, I am a firm believer that there is always room for improvement when it comes to patient care, so I am very excited to hopefully contribute to that through this project.

All in all, I have met some incredibly intelligent, determined, and experienced people thus far, and have learned more in the past 4 months than I ever thought possible. I am eager to continue with this project and work towards creating a solution to improve clinical trials at Northwell/Feinstein. And who knows - maybe there’s a drug or treatment in the pipeline now that may directly benefit you someday.