Research Summit posters, abstracts due March 27

Organizers of the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit are encouraging students to submit their abstracts and posters to participate in this year’s event.

The 2019 summit will take place from 3-5 p.m. on April 17 at the UMKC Student Union, Room 401. Deadline for submissions is March 27.

The research summit fosters research collaborations across disciplines and school that will produce economic, health, education and quality-of-life benefits for the greater Kansas City community. It is an opportunity for students to present their research to School of Medicine faculty.

Students must submit  their abstracts through the REDCap Submission Portal at https://is.gd/2019HSSRS. Posters must be submitted by email to the School of Medicine’s Office of Research Administration at hsdresearch@umkc.edu.

A School of Medicine poster template and complete poster guidelines are available online through the Office of Research Administration. Students may have their poster layouts reviewed by John Foxworth, Pharm. D. prior to submitting their poster to the research office. He can be contacted at FoxworthJ@umkc.edu.

Students can also sign up for a time to practice their presentations by sending an email to the research office at hsdresearch@umkc.edu.

The School of Medicine sponsors individual awards for medical students and its graduate students.

This is the seventh year that the schools are participating in the program at one venue on the Volker Campus. Last year, 50 students from the School of Medicine’s M.D. and Allied Health programs presented 45 posters at the research summit.

Health Sciences
Student Research Summit
Important links

Submissions Due: March 27
REDCap Submission Portal: https://is.gd/2019HSSRS

Research Poster Template: http://med.umkc.edu/docs/research/HSSRS_2019_poster_template.pptx
SOM Office of Student Research: hsdresearch@umkc.edu
Poster review with Dr. Foxworth: FoxworthJ@umkc.edu
Additional information: Courtney Dixon / 816-235-5366 /hsdresearch@umkc.edu

 

Research office announces winners from 2018 Student Research Summit

Chizitam Ibezim, right, won the School of Medicine’s first prize for his poster presentation at the 2018 UMKC Heath Sciences Student Research Summit.

Fourth-year medical student Chizitam Ibezim won first prize for his poster presentation at the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit on April 18 at the Student Union.

Ibezim was among the 50 UMKC School of Medicine students who participated in this year’s summit. They presented 45 of the event’s 87 posters. Students from the health sciences schools of dentistry, nursing and health studies, and pharmacy, as well as the School of Biological Sciences, also presented posters.

The School of Medicine’s Office of Research Administration presented three awards for student presentations and one top prize for graduate student presentations.

Geetha Raghuveer, M.D., served as Ibezim’s faculty mentor on his first-place research project and poster, “Long Term outcomes of Mechanical Mitral Valve Replacement in Children.”

Firas Al Badarin, M.D., M.S.C.R., won the first prize for his graduate student presentation, “Utilization of Radiation-Saving Practices with Myocardial Perfusion Imaging: Temporal.” John Spertus, M.D., was his faculty mentor.

Second prize for a student presentation was awarded to Kelly Kapp, sixth-year student, for “Cardiac Valve Replacement Associated with Higher Values of Glycocalyx Production in Viridan Streptococcal Endocarditis.” She was mentored by Lawrence Dall, M.D.

Mahnoor Malik, a second-year student mentored by Alexey S. Ladokhin, M.D., won the third price for “Purification and Crystallization of Diphtheria Toxin for X-Ray Analysis.”

School of Medicine faculty members served as judges at the event. They included: Darla McCarthy, Ph.D., Jeffrey Price, Ph.D., Maria Cole, Ph.D., Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., R. Scott Duncan, Ph.D., Sean Riordan, Ph.D., Mian Urfy, M.D., Lakshmi Venkitachalam, Ph.D., Nilofer Qureshi, Ph.D., Felix Okah, M.D., Peter Koulen, Ph.D., Bridgette Jones, M.D., Karl Kador, Ph.D., Dan Heruth, Ph.D., Shui Ye, Ph.D., and Gary Sutkin, M.D., M.B.A.

The research office also thanked Tim Hickman, M.D., M.P.H., for conducting student presentation practice sessions. John Foxworth, Pharm.D., was also acknowledged for reviewing posters with students to prepare for the event.

All of the student poster presentations maybe viewed on the student research website at http://med.umkc.edu/student-research/hssrs/

 

 

SOM vision researcher receives nearly $2-million for glaucoma research

Karl Kador, Ph.D.

Karl E. Kador, Ph.D., a researcher at the UMKC Vision Research Center, has received a nearly $2-million grant from the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The funding will support his work to develop a novel approach for treating patients suffering end-stage glaucoma.

This most advanced phase of glaucoma is an extremely serious condition in which very little healthy retinal tissue remains. This results in a high level of visual damage and a much greater risk of blindness.

Kador’s research focuses on injuries and diseases of the optic nerve that lead to the death of retinal ganglion cells, which connect the retina to the brain. He is using tissue engineering to develop methods of transplanting new cells to replace those dead cells. The aim is to restore vision to patients suffering end-stage glaucoma and other eye disorders.

Kador’s NIH grant will be fully funded at $1,937,500 for a five-year period beginning May 1, 2018.

“The NIH R01 grant is widely considered the gold standard for outstanding biomedical research,” said Peter Koulen, Ph.D., Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research and co-director of the Vision Research Center. “Dr. Kador’s grant adds significantly to the national recognition and growth of our ongoing research programs at UMKC School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Research Center. These programs have been continually NIH-funded since 2009.”

An assistant professor of ophthalmology and biomedical sciences, Kador joined the School of Medicine and the Vision Research Center last March. Koulen said receiving this major NIH funding is an outstanding achievement in light of the difficult funding climate for researchers. He also noted that the grant comes less than a year after Kador joined the UMKC research faculty.

“Dr. Kador’s program, recognized by this highly competitive NIH support, brings the promise for groundbreaking and highly impactful research to Kansas City,” Koulen said. “But also, and more importantly, it brings renewed hope for our patients and the communities we serve.”

Nelson Sabates, M.D., chair of the UMKC Department of Ophthalmology and founder of the Vision Research Center, said there is an urgent need for enhanced research such as Kador’s to battle the adverse effects of glaucoma and similar eye diseases.

“A significant number of people suffer from glaucoma and other debilitating eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy,” Sabates said. “Dr. Kador and his efforts in tissue engineering are another example of the novel work taking place at the Vision Research Center that will benefit individuals in our community and worldwide.”

The program at the Vision Research Center also aligns with the mission of the UMKC Health Sciences District, a cooperative of 12 neighboring health care institutions on Hospital Hill. Formed in 2017, the partnership supports research, grants, community outreach and shared wellness for employees, faculty, students and surrounding neighborhoods.

Med students fill UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit

Third-year medical student Sahaja Alturi explains the details of her research poster at the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

Sahaja Atluri, a third-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine, was just 11 years old when she saw her grandfather die of lung cancer. It was then that she decided to become the first doctor in her family.

“That was when I realized, maybe if we’d detected the signs and symptoms earlier, there would have been something we could have done for my grandfather,” Atluri said.

Now, her passion is orthopaedic surgery and providing orthopaedic care for people in poor and underdeveloped areas of the world.

Atluri conducted an exploratory study of the accessibility of orthopaedic care and the disparities of care in impoverished areas. She put her findings on display in a poster presentation on April 18 at the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

She said her study showed a great need for orthopaedic medicine in underserved populations worldwide. It also pointed out that people in those parts of the world run a higher risk of suffering acute traumatic injuries.

“I’m one who likes to see the result of my work and I think orthopaedics is a practice where you can see those results immediately,” Atluri said. “For me, it’s about being able to improve your quality of life rather than your quantity of life. I saw my grandfather suffer, and while I can’t impact that directly, I’d like to make an impact in the long run by saying, ‘Let’s improve your quality of life.’”

Alturi was among the 50 medical students who participated in this year’s research summit at the UMKC Student Union. Med students presented 45 of the event’s 87 posters. Students from the health sciences schools of dentistry, nursing and health studies, and pharmacy, as well as  and the School of Biological Sciences also presented posters.

View medical student posters from the 2018 UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit

Mark Hecker, director of research administration at the School of Medicine, said a growing number of SOM students this year participated as co-presenters of research posters that they had worked on together.

Sixth-year medical students Cassidy Onukwuli and Juliet Gatiba collaborated to gather data for a survey looking at preventive health screenings conducted in African-American churches. Onukwuli said it began with serving as volunteers on a larger project by Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics. That program, called “Taking it to the Pews” (TIPs), is actually taking health education and screenings to African-American church congregations.

“We got involved as volunteers with the TIPs project and were intrigued. That led us to this research project,” Onukwuli said. “We were both interested in prevention.”

Gathi said that having a classmate working beside her on the research made the work less daunting.

“Because I hadn’t done research before, it was easier to bounce ideas off of each other and help each other out,” Gathi said. “When (Onukwuli) was busy, I had free time to work on it and when I was busy, she would have free time. So, it worked out well.”

Second-year student Josh Hill stood in front of his poster that explored two different surgical procedures to treat a bleeding Meckel’s diverticulum. The research sought to highlight which procedure led to fewer complications.

Hill said his role was to read through 249 case files of patients from 2002 through 2017, seeing if they were included in the study. He documented those that were, listing any complications such as bleeding, small bowel obstruction or perforations during the surgery.

As a data collector, Hill said he took his time studying the cases.

“I did this during the summer between my first and second year of medical school,” he said. “All I really knew was general anatomy at that point, so I was reading and not only learning about different procedures but learning what all these abbreviations are. I had Google up and was learning how doctors write notes and thinking, ‘Wow, that’s really interesting.’”

With plans of becoming a surgeon, Hill said he knows that having a research background will give him leg up when Match Day rolls around for his class in four years.

“To get into a good residency, I realize that doing research and having good connections is important,” Hill said. “By the end of my first semester, I was looking into research opportunities. I e-mailed Children’s Mercy Hospital, Truman Medical Center and UMKC to see if I could get on a project. Children’s Mercy had an opportunity doing data collection, so I hopped on.”

Hill said he is already collecting data as part of a new research project.

Yicheng Bao’s award-winning diabetes study puts new focus on autoimmune conditions

Yicheng Bao, left, with his research study co-authors, Dr Janet McGill, professor of medicine at Washington University-St. Louis, and Dr. Maamoun Salam, a graduating endocrinology fellow at Washington University.

Yicheng Bao, a third-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine, conducted a research study that shows adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are at greater risk of developing additional autoimmune conditions.

Bao received an Endocrine Society Outstanding Abstract Award for his work. He was then invited to give an  oral presentation of his results at the March annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago. This was a special and rare opportunity, as most selected abstracts are designated for poster presentations.

Much of Bao’s research took place during his summer medical student research program at Washington University in St. Louis. The program was sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Bao continued working on the study when he returned to school at UMKC.

Following his presentation in Chicago, Bao’s results have been reported in a number of health-care and diabetes-related media outlets.

“I came to work on this particular project because of my interest in diabetes and its complications,” Bao said. “Diabetes is a growing public health concern, and it is very debilitating for patients. It has multifaceted complications that confound their care, and this area in particular requires more research.”

His study found that people with type 1 diabetes can develop multiple autoimmune diseases. And, those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as an adult run a greater risk of developing them.

Bao’s study collected patient data on 29 autoimmune conditions. He found that the overwhelming majority of additional conditions developed in adults after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

These results of could lead health-care providers to give closer attention to symptoms of autoimmune diseases in diabetes patients diagnosed with the disease as an adult.

Bao said he developed skills from the experience that have lead him to continue his research efforts. He now intends to pursue a career in academic medicine and research.

“I learned to ask scientific questions that have significant clinical implications, and to answer these questions with biostatistics and data analysis,” he said. “Using these skills, I am working on several other studies about diabetes and its complications that will be submitted for publication soon.”

Links to media reports of Yicheng Bao’s research study on type 1 diabetes in adults:

Notable research project featured in SOM video series

A new School of Medicine video looks at two important research projects addressing health disparities among African Americans. These projects are spreading the gospel of good health … at church.

The research is led by Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics, who works with area churches and pastors to bring health education and screening to African-American congregations. Attention is given to issues of HIV, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Research plays a critical role at the UMKC School of Medicine – for students, faculty, residents and fellows. Today, nearly 100 faculty are involved in research projects with some, like Berkley-Patton’s, awarded significant federal grants and national foundation funding. Medical students are encouraged to engage in research and scholarship activities, and the school supports residents and fellows looking to embrace research as part of their medical careers.

To highlight its leadership role in research, the School of Medicine is producing a research video series. The first film features Berkley-Patton and her National Institutes of Health grants: Faith Influencing Transformation and Taking it to the Pews.

View the video

SOM researcher develops technology for early detection of Alzheimer’s

Patients can be tested for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease with a microperimeter, a machine already used regularly in eye exams.
Koulen, Peter
Peter Koulen, Ph.D.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5-million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. At UMKC School of Medicine, researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., has found an innovative way to diagnose the early stages of the disease – with an eye exam.

The test was developed at the School of Medicine’s Vision Research Center, where Koulen serves as director of basic research. It provides a non-invasive, fast-screening tool for early detection of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to Alzheimer’s.

Koulen’s work received a patent in January and has been attracting attention since. With support from the university’s Office of Technology Commercialization, it is now drawing interest from local manufacturers and diagnostic companies.

Koulen said the technology has received overtures from local investors interested in forming a startup company to license and further develop it, as well.

“There are business people now on our doorstep,” he said.

The test uses a microperimeter, a machine routinely used in eye exams to evaluate retina function, and typically takes less than half an hour.

And it is a relatively simple test for patients. One looks into the machine and presses a button when they see a flash of light. A computer program progresses through a series of flashing lights in various locations and intensities to measure the person’s retinal function.

“This is a technology that is already widely used by ophthalmologists,” Koulen said. “Over the years, we’ve found some different uses for it, and the Alzheimer’s diagnostics is one example of that. It’s basically a boring video game that you play for a few minutes.”

Because it was developed through clinical studies with patients and subjects, the transition from discovery to use in clinics could be relatively short. Compare that to other research, like creating a cancer drug, which could take decades of development.

“We’ve worked about half a decade on this,” Koulen said.

The technology evolved through researching therapies for glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, major eye diseases affecting the retina. These have been the focus of much of Koulen’s work at UMKC since joining the Vision Research Center in 2009.

The retina, a light-sensitive tissue, is part of the body’s central nervous system and is connected to the brain. Koulen and his team spent about seven years developing a still-growing database to define a baseline for healthy retina function. Using microperimetry, they were able to recognize subtle deviations from those baseline figures beyond normal aging. They linked those deviations to what they realized could be indicators of early-stage Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment.

“We were able to pick up that these patients very likely had the neurological disorder before the neurologist was able to diagnose the very earliest forms of the disease,” Koulen said.

There is no single exam for diagnosing Alzheimer’s. The current method is an often cumbersome, time-consuming process of eliminating other potential causes of a neurological disorder. Results can be inconclusive until the disease has progressed to a more-advanced stage. By that point, treatment and patient care has become a primary concern.

A more rapid and conclusive diagnosis is possible with the test Koulen has developed. It can easily be given in a clinic or other settings. That could make the technology enticing for investors.

“The nice thing about conducting the diagnostics in the clinic is that they’re non-invasive,” Koulen said. “You don’t have to draw blood. You don’t need anesthesia. It’s basically a very complicated eye exam, but it’s still an eye exam.”

UMKC students co-author abstracts selected for presentation at Experimental Biology

Six medical students from the School of Medicine are co-authors of research abstracts or posters that have been accepted for presentation at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting this spring in San Diego.

Experimental Biology is an annual invitation-only meeting of five scientific societies made up of more than 14,000 scientists who focus on anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology, pharmacology, and physiology.

Elizabeth Onishchenko, fourth-year student, is the second author of an abstract selected for a poster and oral presentation. The abstract is Minimal Effect of Aliskiren on Mast Cells Count and Renal Vascular Damage in Acute Rat Model of Triolein Induced Pulmonary Fat Embolism. Authors are Farnaz Khalafi, Onishchenko, Mohammad Pour, Daud Arif, Paula Monaghan, Alan Poisner and Agustino Molteni.

Fourth-year students Thomas Haferkamp and Taylor Lind are co-authors of the poster, Mast Cell Heterogeneity in Rat Lungs in a Model of Fat Embolism After Treatment with Drugs Related to the Renin Angiotensin System. Authors are Ahsan Siddiqi, Saba Siddiqi, Dauod Arif,  Haferkamp,  Lind, Mohammad Pour, Paula Monaghan, Soheila Hamidpour and Agostino Molteni.

Michael Van Dillen and Ariana Fotouhi are fourth-year students who co-authored Pulmonary Cell Stained in a Rat Model of Fat Embolism for Renin and Prorenin are Increased After Aliskiren Treatment, Which Ameliorates the Fat-Induced Inflammatory Process. Poster authors include Ethar Al-Husseinawai, Jordan Dane Colson,  Van Dillen,  Fotouhi, Mohammad Asan, Lucille White, Mohammed Pour, Daud Arif, Paula Monaghan, Alan Poisner, Agostino Molteni.

Abigail Spaedy, fourth-year student, is a co-author of the poster, Mast Cell Numbers of Rat Lungs in an Acute Model of Fat Embolism are Reduced by Aliskiren and Losartan But Not By Captopril. Authors of the poster include Dauod Arif, DayneVoelker, Spaedy, Soheila Hamidpour, Alan Poisner, Mohammad Pour, Paula Monaghan, Farnaz Khalafi, Agostino Molteni.

Experimental Biology takes place in San Diego, California, on April 21-25.

New event introduces third-year students to medical research

Faculty members judged the student teams’ research posters.

On Dec. 5, more than 100 third-year medical students presented research findings at the UMKC School of Medicine as part of their coursework in medical neuroscience.

Students, in teams of four, used data from the Cerner HealthFacts database to try to answer a unique question they identified related to various disease and conditions. Those examined included Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, obsessive-compulsive disorder, epilepsy and diabetes. After analyzing the data and drawing conclusions, each team made a poster displaying its question and hypothesis, telling how the team members went about testing their hypothesis, explaining their findings, and identifying questions for further study.

The idea behind the exercise was to give students an early research experience, and for many it was their first medical research.

By all accounts, the assignment was a success. Several students said that before the exercise they were worried about how difficult it would be to do research, but now they looked forward to being able to do more.

Shafaa Mansoor, whose team studied possible seasonal effects on strokes, said she is interested in community health and now sees research as a way to further that interest, identify the real effects of medical conditions and test possible treatments.

Her teammates Rebecca Kurian and Tom Matthews agreed that the project was a good, hands-on way to learn how to do research.

“The process was as important as the results,” Matthews said. “Learning how to do this and present our findings was valuable.”

More than 40 faculty members collaborated to make the project a reality, including several who judged the presentations. Each team also had a faculty mentor and a supporting biostatistician from the Department of Biomedical & Health Informatics, Children’s Mercy Hospital or the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

One of the judges, Maria Cole, M.Ed.L., Ph.D., an associate professor in biomedical sciences, very much liked what she saw.

“I had these students in class in January and it’s something to see how far they have come since then,” she said. “Their ability to analyze data and explain their findings, and to link their results to what they learned in class, is impressive.”

Jennifer Bickel (second from left), M.D. ’01, associate professor of pediatrics and chief of the headache section at Children’s Mercy Hospital; was one of three faculty members who devised the exercise. She circulated among the student research teams to get their thoughts on the exercise.

The exercise was devised by Jennifer Bickel, M.D. ’01, associate professor of pediatrics and chief of the headache section at Children’s Mercy Hospital; Julie Banderas, Pharm.D., BCPS, professor and interim chair of the Department of Biomedical & Health Informatics, professor and associate dean for graduate studies; and Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and associate dean for research.

“There was no model for this, so we’re learning as we go,” said Bickel, who talked with the teams about their experiences. “We will make improvements and hope this is something we can eventually share with other programs. It’s exciting to be doing something completely new.”

The teams were judged for poster content, clarity, appearance and organization; their oral presentations; and demonstration of critical thinking.

The top three teams were announced Dec. 6:

First place: Jonathan Jalali, Chidera Okafor, Jacob Perera and Amudha Porchezhian, “Is Patient Sex Linked to Pharmacologic Agents that Induce Acute Dystonic Reaction?”

Second place: Caleb Spencer, Grace Arias, Debolina Kanjilal and Kyla Mahone, “Correlation Between Elevation in Inflammatory Markers of ESR and CRP in Patients Diagnosed with OCD and OCPD and Age.”

Third place: Saniya Ablatt, Vijaya Dasari, Gauri Kaushal and Andrea Pelate, “Stroke Incidence at a Young Age in Rural vs. Urban Populations.”