Meet Danielle Koerner
What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?
I am a medical student at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. I had a lot of medical issues when I was younger, so I was interested in pursuing this career path since 8th grade. As my awareness in the field grew, I went to a Pre-Medical Institute at WashU in St. Louis where I met a Cardiothoracic Surgeon at WashU, Dr. Pasque, who I would later do research and spend time in the OR with. He was really a catalyst in my journey to find that this specialty is the proper one for me; it was through shadowing in the OR as well as for organ harvest and transplant with him that I solidified this passion. Later I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos, a connective tissue disease that often affects elastic tissue including the aorta. This added to my interest in the field, and specifically with congenital heart conditions. Thus, I am pursuing this track and am devoted to academic medicine through research. I decided to join the American Heart Association Missouri State Advocacy Board because I am highly interested in starting with this organization from the onset of my medical training, rather than when I am already a physician. I want to dedicate time and knowledge to this group as well as bolster the platform upon which I am able to advocate for the state. I never want the information that I learn in school to be confined to only my patients; I hope to convey the importance of this information to people around the state who would benefit from legislation and policies that prevent or decrease harm to their health.
What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?
I am most passionate about anti-smoking issues and policies. Part of the reason for this is due to the medical and physiological understanding of exactly what smoking does to the body. For those who may not understand the gravity of effects this can have on the body, it is something I feel passionate about helping decrease for workers and children.
I am also very passionate about proper diet and appropriate balance. I have many food intolerances, such that my diet is limited and I have to find creative ways to make the foods that I love. Diet is one of the most important aspects of health, and I am glad that is part of what we are advocating for this season.
What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far?
I have not had many experiences yet since I am new to the board, but I am very excited about the advocacy day on the hill where everyone is working together in a very concrete way to hopefully institute necessary and advantageous change.
What is your favorite way to be active?
I enjoy boxing. It is an effective and fun way to stay active and relieve stress.
What is your favorite fruit/ vegetable?
My favorite fruit is a peach, and my favorite vegetable is broccoli sautéed with onions, garlic, and chili powder!