2016-2017 Luce Scholar

Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine National, Taiwan University

For her Luce year, Jenn Tu will work in the Lab of Geriatric and Genomic Epidemiology Research at the Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, which is part of the College of Public Health of the National Taiwan University. The lab focuses primarily on research on the elderly, and runs projects on cognitive function, dementia and osteoporosis, as well as international collaborative projects on prostate cancer. The lab has extensive collaboration with clinicians of different specialties (geriatrics, neurology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology and cardiology) and multidisciplinary experts (biostatistics, nutrition and spatiotemporal environment).

Jenn is a Chinese American born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated from Harvard College in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology and a secondary concentration in Global Health and Health Policy. She served as co-president and summer director of Harvard-Radcliffe MIHNUET, which brings undergraduate musicians to more than twelve long-term care facilities in Boston for year-round concerts, and introduced a “resident performer” system that fosters longitudinal relationships between volunteers and their audiences. She also co-directed the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies, which matches students with Alzheimer’s patients for one-on-one weekly visits, and coordinated an IRB-approved research study to quantify the program’s clinical effects, which she later presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen. At Harvard Medical School, Jennifer pursued two research projects focused on cellular modeling of familial Alzheimer’s disease and analysis of volumetric differences in brain regions among the elderly.

By seeking out experiences in diverse social and scientific settings, she aims to build a deeper understanding of aging and related issues, including the incorporation of intergenerational interaction as a therapy for dementia and the elucidation of structural changes in the brain that occur with aging. In recognition of her efforts, she received Leading Age’s 2015 Great Minds Exceptional Friend or Family Caregiver Award and the Creativity Foundation’s 2015 Benjamin Franklin Legacy Prize for Creativity in Service. Jennifer plans to pursue a career in geriatric medicine, integrated with innovative initiatives in music, service, and advocacy. In her spare time, she enjoys playing piano and chamber music with friends, mentoring children at the Harvard Ed Portal, people-watching, caricaturing, and taking part in community runs.