More than 200 first-year medical students participated in community service to support the AIDS Foundation Houston this spring. Their efforts included both a housing project and support for the annual AIDS Walk, which took place March 6. The volunteer activities were part of the Immunology course curriculum.

“It is important for our students to realize early during their medical career that there is a human aspect to immune based diseases,” said Dr. Jeffrey Actor, course director and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. “The volunteer activities provide a mechanism to give back to our local community on a personal level.”

The MSI students, led by Pedram Honarpisheh, Jocelyn Abraham, and James Zafereo, helped mobilize their classmates to action.  The program has been in place for over 15 years, however, their efforts led to a record number of participants this year.

Niki Lessig, volunteer services manager for the foundation, appreciated the community outreach, and said “volunteers made the entire event run so smoothly, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”