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Sarafinovska honored for work to improve medical students’ mental health

Named inaugural recipient of brAvery Foundation Award

October 2, 2020

Simona Sarafinovska, a Washington University Medical Scientist Training Program student, has been named the inaugural recipient of The brAvery Foundation Award. The foundation, dedicated to the prevention of youth suicide, created the award to recognize an exceptional medical student or resident who has demonstrated a commitment to a career in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Sarafinovska — who is working toward her PhD in the laboratory of Joseph D. Dougherty, PhD, an associate professor of genetics and of psychiatry — aims to pursue a career in child psychiatry that builds on foundations in translational basic-science research to inform day-to-day clinical practice. She was honored for assembling a team of students, residents and faculty to investigate burnout, depression and thoughts of suicide among medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic, high-profile incidents of racial injustice and recent immigration policy changes. Her aim was to gather information and use it to improve mental health resources for her fellow students.


The brAvery Foundation will provide Sarafinovska further opportunities to learn about early-life adversity and promoting resilience at the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Conference. She also will present her findings on medical student well-being at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.