UF medical student makes Hippodrome debut
Published May 25th, 2016
GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- University of Florida medical students have busy schedules, but one is adding to her workload...and not just at the hospital.
"I'm a clinical research associate in the UF Emergency Department and I also work with the College of Medicine in human epigenetics," says Maria Kerrigan.
Kerrigan studies a variety of topics but for her graduate work, but she's focusing on the environmental factors that control how genes are regulated.
"We're talking about biochemical additions to either the DNA itself or the proteins that interact with the DNA that can actually influence if a certain gene is expressed or not expressed," explains Kerrigan.
As if Kerrigan's schedule isn't busy enough, next week she will ditch the scrubs and return to acting when she makes her Hippodrome debut in "The Toxic Avenger."
"It's zaney and funny and so much fun to do,"
While it may be Kerrigan's first time at the Hippodrome, she's no stranger to the stage. Prior to coming to Gainesville, Kerrigan did Off-Broadway shows in New York and worked for Walt Disney World for 10 years. Her artistic director for "The Toxic Avenger" says she's a force to be reckoned with.
"Working with Maria is like drinking 10 Red Bulls," explains Lauren Warhol Caldwell. "It's been really entertaining. Sometimes I'm laughing so hard--I think I did a spit-take once with my coffee watching her."
Kerrigan has found a way to translate her musical talents to her daily routine at UF Health Shands. She's a musician in residence where she comforts patients by singing to them. UF College of Medicine professor Marie-Carmelle Elie remembers a time when Kerrigan was able to help a crying baby and it's distressed mother.
"Maria was able to hold the baby in her arms and sing to the baby, calm him and allow the mother to have some rest for a few moments," recalls Dr. Elie. "It was a beautiful moment. It was one of the opportunities for us to really connect with a patient and family."
Kerrigan is used to making those connections. One patient she grew close to was in the hospital for more than a year waiting on a heart transplant. "Derrick also plays the guitar, and it was just kind of an instant connection," Kerrigan explains. "I think we bonded over Howie Day "You and I Collide," that song. And we just started playing together and it turned into a weekly moment of peace and relaxation for him to deal with what he was going through in the hospital."
Derrick Larrea has now been released from the hospital and is doing fine. He credits Kerrigan for keeping his spirits up while he was a patient. "She was able to pick out the right songs at the right moments and really have everybody calm down," Larrea explains. "So, I thank God that I met Maria. I think this is one of the best things out of the transplant--other than the heart."
You can see Kerrigan at the Hippodrome in "The Toxic Avenger" starting June 3rd.
"It's not one you're going to want to miss," says Kerrigan.
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