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Off Campus: ‘Down East’ Fun for the Whole Family

Published on
September 17, 2019


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By Nancy McCann

Editor’s note: Welcome to our new blog series, “Off Campus.” Here you’ll discover what our amazing Research Institute employees do for fun, recreation, and the good of their communities once they leave the city behind. And if you know someone in your department or lab with a fascinating hobby or interest, we’d like to hear about it!

Jennifer McGuire, MD, MSCE, is a neurologist and epidemiologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an assistant professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine in University of Pennsylvania. She’s also deep into research about the effects of acquiring HIV during adolescence on normal brain maturation.

“Understanding the neurologic effects of HIV in adolescents, and how they may differ from what has been described in adults, is critical to developing long-term treatment strategies to help this very vulnerable population,” Dr. McGuire said.

By using MRI data that can be quantified, like brain volume or signal intensity, Dr. McGuire aims to identify reliable biomarkers that will allow her to develop mechanistic hypotheses about how HIV is interfering with brain development in areas such as problem-solving, complex reasoning, self-control.

When Dr. McGuire comes up for air after all that data analysis, she likes to breathe in the pine-scented breezes of Maine during family vacations on the coast.

“My grandparents bought a small cottage up there in the 1940s; it’s about an hour ‘Down East’ of Portland,” she said in the vernacular of those in the know of Maine.

Dr. McGuire is passionate about kayaking, and boating, in general. She spends a few special weeks each summer sharing her childhood joys on the water with her own children.

“The rocky coast of Maine is very different than the sandy shores of New Jersey,” she said. “We took our kids kayaking for the first-time last year, and the frigid waters surprised them! After they recovered from the initial shock, they spent a lot of time trying to catch sight of a lobster among the ubiquitous buoys in the harbor.”

Dr. McGuire’s grandparent’s cottage has turned into quite the multi-generational family destination. With her parents, two siblings, aunts, uncles, six cousins, spouses, and children all sharing vacation time in the rustic space, weeks alone there can be a rare commodity.

Rainy days bring out the board games. Sunny days encourage hiking and boating. Cool nights call for hot chocolate and sweatshirts. Add in a large, loving family, and it’s the formula for a perfect “Down East” summer.