TCOM student honored for leadership in lifestyle medicine

By Jan Jarvis

Paresh Jaini
Paresh Jaini

When he becomes a psychiatrist, Paresh Jaini does not want to rely solely on medication and psychotherapy to treat his patients.

“I want to utilize lifestyle interventions as another treatment tool when approaching my patients with mental illness,” he said. “I want to coach my patients to lead a healthy life, so that they can gain a healthy mind.”

Jaini’s efforts to heighten awareness of the lifestyle-health connection led the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to name him as a recipient of the 2017 Donald A. Pegg Student Leadership Award. He is one of four students in the country to receive the award, which was established to encourage leadership in lifestyle medicine at the student level.

Jaini created the Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group at UNT Health Science Center. The organization grew out of his interest in how diet, exercise, sleep and stress management affect health. The fourth-year Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine student said he encourages other UNTHSC students to develop a greater appreciation of the effects of lifestyle on health.

Jaini said he is grateful to win the award, which provides a seed grant for the Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group.

“Winning these awards is great validation of what I have achieved to date, and it is an honor to be recognized by successful lifestyle medicine practitioners who expressed that they viewed me ‘as the future of Lifestyle Medicine,’” he said. “Personally, I feel very proud to be able to set an example for other medical students that hard work, persistence, and being passionate about what you do leads to success.”

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine also recognized him for “Outstanding Scientific Abstract Poster Presentation” for his research into the epigenetic effects of lifestyle intervention on depression, a study that also was selected for presentation at next year’s Society of Behavioral Medicine’s annual meeting. In addition, he received an award for his work as Vice President of Development for the ACLM’s National Professionals in Training Leadership.

“I am glad to see Paresh recognized for his accomplishments in the field of lifestyle medicine at such an early stage in his training,” said Jenny Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine. “He is a pioneer for lifestyle medicine among his peers in U.S. medical schools.”

As his mentor and advisor, Dr. Lee introduced him to lifestyle medicine and helped him found the interest group.

Jaini said he became interested in the psychosocial aspects of health and disease in college when he read about the poor health outcomes faced by migrant farmworkers in the United States in a Sociology course.

“I gained a great appreciation for how health is affected by so much more than just our genetics,” he said. “I learned that our government policies, cultural values, environment, and lifestyle behaviors can really impact our health.”

 

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