May Choi | Top 40 Under 40 2023

She helps patients with complex autoimmune diseases get diagnosed and treated earlier.

Photo by Jared Sych; location, Centennial Place.

Age: 35

Job title: Rheumatologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Why she’s a 2023 Top 40 Under 40: She helps patients with complex autoimmune diseases get diagnosed and treated earlier.

Scientists often say their achievements build on work of earlier generations of scientists. In May Choi’s case, that pioneering scientist is her father.

When Choi was in medical school, her father, Vincent — a rheumatologist in Calgary with an interest in lupus — died unexpectedly. She heard stories about the impact he’d made. “This inspired me to follow in his footsteps,” says Choi, who did a fellowship focused on rheumatology in Calgary and another on lupus at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School, where she obtained a Master’s of Public Health.

Today, along with being the mother to two young children, Choi works across hospitals caring for patients with severe autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma, and runs an outpatient clinic dedicated to lupus. She sees many former patients of Vincent’s. “I always dreamed of working together with my dad, seeing patients together,” she says. “I’m never going to have that, but I know he’s watching over me and my family. I know he would be proud.”

Among Choi’s 66 peer-reviewed publications are influential papers that identified biomarkers that predict long-term prognosis in a common form of lupus. “Currently, there is no cure for autoimmune rheumatic diseases and there is a lack of effective therapies,” she says. These diseases primarily affect young women who are visible minorities, and are the leading causes of pain, disability and death in this population.

Choi leads CatalystDx, a research program funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, to study biomarkers in the blood using artificial intelligence. Additionally, she is an associate director at MitogenDx Laboratory, a private laboratory that provides novel autoimmune biomarker testing for patients, physicians and researchers.

Thank Yous
“My nominator, Dr. Jayna Holroyd-Leduc, my reference, Dr. Alexandra Charlton; my mentors, Dr. Marvin Fritzler, Dr. Ann Clarke, and Dr. Karen Costenbader; my research team and collaborators; my family, especially my mom, Lisa, sister, Jen, brothers, John and Wayne, brother-in-law, Bryan, parents-in-law, Sarah and Michael, husband, Chris, and my two children Sydney and Benjamin; my late father, Vincent, for inspiring me to follow in his footsteps.”

 

Top 40 Under 40 2023

Susannah S. Alleyne

Dave Carlton & Andrew Renaux

May Choi

Devin Cooper

Matthew Corkum

Morgan Curley & Marc Husted

Lauren DeDieu

Julie Deleemans

Barry, Daniel & Lorin Doerksen

Nauzer Forbes

Aravind Ganesh

Stephanie Hutchinson

Hadis Karimipour

Dion Kelly & Eli Kinney-Lang

Ben Klepacki

Krista Lauridsen

Chantelle Little

Aaron Logan

Adam Martinson

Renee Matsalla

Jayme Minor

Husein Moloo

Daniel Monzon

Anna Murphy

Toyin Lafenwa Oladele

Maxim Olshevsky

David Oulton

Kathryn Pearce

Jacqueline Peterson

Steven Ross

Julie Rubin

Ishita Singla

Chaz Smith

Cassie Suche

Jared Darcy Tailfeathers

Brodie Thomas

Benjamin Tutolo

Andrea Urquhart

Ashley Wanamaker

Steven Yip

Learn more about the people and organizations moving Calgary forward with Avenue's Innovation Newsletter.

This article appears in the November 2023 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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