August 22, 2018 - ATN Researcher Profile: Shannon Wilson
Shannon Wilson’s passion for working with young people came from her experience with them during their most difficult times. As a high school student, Wilson spent time volunteering in the ER at Community North Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Much of the time, she worked with children, many of whom had never visited an ER before.
“That’s where my love for working with children and youth emerged, because they were vulnerable and scared, but talking them through what’s going to happen was very helpful to them,” Wilson said.
From that experience with volunteering, Wilson kept up a spirit of altruism in her life. “I’ve always been an advocate for other people,” she said. “My gift is to care for others.” Wilson has a background in providing medical care, including work as an emergency department technician. She also went on a medical trip to Ghana, where she helped set up a mobile health clinic in a rural town.
Today, she is a Clinical Research Specialist in the Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. Through this role, she works on Consent 2.0’s ATN 150 study that explores the consent process for adolescent participants who are engaged in biomedical HIV prevention trials. The study also considers the consent process from the perspective of parents. The project looks at adolescents’ willingness to participate in biomedical HIV prevention trials and the willingness of parents to support them in the trials.
“The Consent study is important in a variety of ways,” Wilson said. “This is a very different study valuing youth opinions. It’s a very innovative, incredible project that helps us understand how we can avoid excluding youth who could be part of biomedical HIV prevention trials.” Wilson’s many duties include assisting with reporting, trainings, study data collection, and coordination with the review board of the study.
Through her work at the university, Wilson gained numerous mentors, including Amy Knopf, PhD, and Gregory Zimet, PhD, both from Indiana University. “Amy is great, she values my opinions and has given me great opportunities. Greg is an incredible person with great experience and patience,” she said. “My mentors push me to grow and give me more responsibilities while holding me accountable.”
The study is currently in the field recruiting participants (read more about that here). Wilson visited the Consent 2.0 recruitment sites at Johns Hopkins University, University of Chicago, University of Colorado, and University of South Florida, and delivered training.
“I really enjoyed trying to understand the community – trying to understand the services they provide and the different types of people who were seeking care,” she said. “The sites are doing a fabulous job of providing care to those in need.”
In her downtime, Wilson enjoys horseback riding. She takes weekly lessons through a family friend who owns two horses in Indiana. “The horses are very therapeutic,” she said. “There’s something about their ability to connect with people.”