Tag Archives: Research

Sarah Morrison research award winners announced

Recipients of the April 2017 Sarah Morrison student research awards are (left to right) Jessica Kieu, Shipra Singh, Vishal Thumar, Komal Kumar, and Katherine Suman.

Five School of Medicine’s students have been selected by the Student Research Program to receive Sarah Morrison Student Research Awards. The awards  support support research efforts and help students fund their presentations at conferences and scientific meetings.

The April 2017 recipients are Jessica Kieu, fourth-year medical student, Komal Kumar, fourth-year medical student, Shipra Singh, fourth-year medical student, Katherine Suman, sixth-year medical student, and Vishal Thumar, sixth-year medical student.

Sarah Morrison award recipients are reviewed by a committee of faculty judges and processed through the school’s Office of Research Administration. Awards of up to $1,500 are presented each April and October. Since 2013, students have received more than $61,000 in financial support from the Sarah Morrison program to support research projects at the School of Medicine.

Students interested in the Sarah Morrison Research awards are encouraged to apply prior to the April 1 and Oct. 1 deadlines each year. For complete application information, visit the Office of Research Administration’s student research website.

Award winners, abstract titles and faculty mentors

  • Jessica Kieu, “Maternal-fetal reactions to acute emotional stress in prenatal depressed mothers: correlations with fetal biomagnetometry measures,” Prakash Chandra – TMC
  • Komal Kumar, “Pregnant Women with Previous Mental Health Disorders and Behavior During Ultrasound,” Prakash Chandra – TMC
  • Shipra Singh, “The Effect of NAAA Gene Expression on Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity,” Shui Ye – CMH
  • Katherine Suman, “The role of innate immune system signaling pathways in glaucoma pathogenesis,” Peter Koulen – Vision Research Center
  • Vishal Thumar, “Visualizing the Difference between Life and Death: A Comparison of Liver Ultrasound Findings in Children with Sinusoidal Obstruction Syndrome After Bone Marrow Transplantation,” Sherwin Chan – CMH



Vaidyanathan presents research at international neurology conference

Medical student Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan, right, presented her research poster with her mentors Harold Morris, M.D., and Angela Hawkins, M.S.N., R.N., at the 2017 American Academy of Neurology conference.

Fifth-year medical student Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan spent nearly two months exploring the histories of stroke patients and the effects of the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The result was a research poster she recently presented at the 2017 American Academy of Neurology conference in Boston.

Her presentation showed that patients treated with tPA within the first 24 hours of a suffering a stroke have significantly fewer early onset seizures.

Vaidyanathan began her study last September while completing a neurology rotation at Saint Luke’s Hospital. Under the guidance of Saint Luke’s neurologist Harold Morris, M.D., and Angela Hawkins, M.S.N., R.N., stroke program manager, Vaidyanathan reviewed the histories of nearly 1,300 stroke patients.

“They allowed me to write it up and go through process with their guidance,” Vaidyanathan said. “I learned so much from that, literature searching, how to write up an abstract, doing bio-statistics. It was a great learning opportunity.”

The annual neurology conference in Boston drew an international audience of nearly 14,000 physicians and scientists.

“This conference was a great experience,” Vaidyanathan said. “I got to meet people who are celebrities in the neurology field. They’re very well-known. I had the opportunity to listen to talks about the latest research that’s going on in neurology and hear all the great innovations that are happening. It was an awesome experience.”

Vaidyanathan said she already has ideas for future studies that look at the effects of tPA and other intra-arterial interventions on the incidence of post-stroke seizures.

“I hope to do further investigation of these patients and get more results that I can write up and present,” she said.

Randall selected to NIH research fellowship

Grant Randall

Grant Randall, a fifth-year medical student, has been selected to take part in a student research fellowship program at the National Institutes of Health.

Beginning this June, Randall will take a leave of absence from medical school to devote his full-time focus to NIH’s Medical Research Scholar’s Program. He is the fourth student from the School of Medicine chosen to participate in the program.

“I talked to some of our students, Blake Montgomery and Dean Merrill, who did this NIH program and they had fantastic things to say about it,” Randall said.

The yearlong program offers medical, dental and veterinary students an intensive research fellowship participating in basic, clinical and translational research at the NIH’s campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Randall said he is excited about the prospects of working with and learning from some of the top researchers in the country.

“You get to take part in lectures pretty much every day and do basic science research, often with Nobel Laureates,” he said. “They do leadership classes, classes on statistics, how to conduct clinical research, writing research papers. Basically, a lot of the skills that people typically pick up along the way (in medical school and residency), they teach you there.”

Randall will spend the first couple of weeks of his fellowship meeting many of the NIH researchers and mentors to get an idea of the opportunities available and find a research project that meets his interest. He said he hopes to work in translational research to get a taste of both basic science and clinical research.

He acknowledged School of Medicine mentors Michael Wacker, Ph.D., assistant dean for medical student research, and John Foxworth, Pharm.D., professor of medicine, for encouraging him to explore the NIH program. Randall said he became interested in research while taking part in out-of-town clinical electives and working with scientists at the University of Iowa on immunology projects.

“That was my main exposure to in-depth basic science research, being in a lab every day,” Randall said. “I loved it and decided I wanted to do more.”

Research Summit winners announced

The Office of Research Administration has announced four School of Medicine winners for their poster presentations at the 2017 UMKC Health Science Research Summit on April 26, including a first-place tie.

Sixth-year medical student Kayla Briggs and fifth-year medical student Sai Vanam were each awarded first place for BA/MD students. Clair Smith, a fifth-year student, was awarded second place in the competition.

First prize for non-BA/MD student presentations was awarded to Yashashwi Pokharel, MD, MSCR.

Awards for the winners were provided in memory of former School of Medicine faculty member Loredana Brizio Molteni, MD, FACS.

School of Medicine students presented 51 posters at the event. Each presentation was judged by members of the faculty. This year’s judges were: Darla McCarthy, PhD; Jeffrey Price, PhD; Maria Cole, PhD; Kim Smolderen, PhD; Raymond Scott Duncan, PhD; Jannette Berkley-Patton, PhD; Mian Urfy, MD; Lakshmi Venkitachalam, PhD; Nilofer Qureshi, PhD; Felix Okah, MD, Peter Koulen, PhD; Bridgette Jones, MD; Karl Kador, PhD; Dan Heruth, PhD; Mary Gerkovich PhD; James Stanford, MD; Rosa Huang, PhD; and Paula Nichols, PhD.

The Office of Research Administration also acknowledge Tim Hickman, MD., MPH, for helping students prepare by conducting sessions prior to the research summit and John Foxworth, PharmD, for reviewing the student posters.

All of the student posters presented at this year’s research summit can be viewed on the Student Research website.

Health Sciences Student Research Summit
School of Medicine Winners

BA/MD Student awards
First place (tie)

Kayla Briggs, “Development of a Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery Tertiary Referral Center within the Veterans Affairs Medical System: Early Experiences.” Mentor: Farzad Alemi, MD, MS.
Sai Vanam, “Effects of Cryopreservation on Structure and Quality of Corneal Tissue.” Mentor: Peter Koulen, PhD.
Second place
Claire Smith, “The Cost and Potential Avoidability of Antibiotic-Associated Adverse Drug Reactions.” Mentor: Jennifer L. Goldman MD, MS.

Non-BA/MD Student Award
First place

Yashashwi Pokharel, MD, MSCR, “Heterogeneity in Treatment Effect in Patients with Peripheral Artery Disease: Insights from the CLEVER Trial.” Mentor: Kim Smolderen, PhD.

Summit spotlights continued growth of student research

Chizitam Ibezim, a third-year medical student, presented his poster at the 2017 UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

A rapidly growing number of UMKC School of Medicine students are turning an eye toward the future and taking an active role in research opportunities.

That was on display at the latest Health Sciences Student Research Summit that took place on April 26 at the UMKC Student Union. Students from the School of Medicine presented a record number of research posters.

Paula Nichols, Ph.D., associate dean for research administration at the School of Medicine, said students are becoming more aware of the importance of medical research and how clinical practice and research are intertwined. It can also greatly enhance post-graduate opportunities, she said.

Third-year medical student Akash Jani discusses his research poster with Paula Nichols, Ph.D., associate dean for research administration.

“These students are incredibly driven and motivated,” Nichols said. “To get into the more competitive residencies, you need to have completed a quality research project. I think students are looking at their future and saying, ‘I can do extremely well on the Step 1 and Step 2 Boards, but what’s going to help me step forward?’ Having a quality research project that they can discuss in their residency interviews will really help them.”

Students from the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Biological Sciences, and Computing and Engineering participated in the event . The School of Medicine had the largest representation with 42 medical students presenting 46 research posters with five additional posters from outcomes researchers participating in the school’s masters programs.

Fifth-year medical student Fedra Fallahian presented a poster on the management challenges for medical complex children with cleft lip and palate. She began taking part in basic science research during her second year of school and has already given oral presentations on other projects at conferences in Las Vegas and Boston.

This was her first poster presentation on a clinical research project.

“It’s really interesting because you learn about something in the classroom and a lot of times you think this is so rare I’m not going to see this again,” she said. “Then you see the clinical correlation and the science behind it and the way the patient presents. It’s really exciting.”

She said her research mentors have been important in her growing interest in research.

“They’ve been so supportive of me and so invested in me and my projects,” Fallahian said. “It’s because of them that I like doing research. I definitely want to continue research in my residency and I’m interested in a career in academic medicine, so I’d like to continue with this even with I’m finished with my residency.”

Chizitam Ibezim, a third-year medical student, was presenting a poster that explores a growing wave of patient dependence on narcotics used as medications while recovering from fractures. He said his research has given him a good foundation for when begins his pharmacology class this summer.

“This project looks at a lot of pharmaceutical factors and I haven’t even taken pharmacology yet,” he said. “But this has allowed me to explore that and get a firm foothold into pharmaceuticals, how they’re prescribed and how medications work.”

Nichols said she was impressed with the research projects on display.

“The quality of the projects is amazing when you look at these students and see how well they can discuss the research and talk about the background, talk about the complications and discuss their findings,” she said.

Nichols said Michael Wacker, Ph.D., and Larry Dall, M.D., assistant deans for medical student research, and Agostino Molteni, M.D., Ph.D., director of student research, have been instrumental in getting more students involved in research activities.

“They’ve done an excellent job in coordinating student research and really helping students find the right research project, the right research mentor and placing them in (research) labs,” she said.

Anand presents research at national ACP meeting

Gaurav Anand presented a research poster in March at the National American College of Physicians’ Internal Medicine Meeting in San Diego.

Fifth-year medical student Gaurav Anand took part in the student research poster competition at the National American College of Physicians’ Internal Medicine Meeting. The three-day conference took place in San Diego at the end of March.

In addition to presenting his research poster, Anand attended lectures on topics ranging from radiology to ophthalmology, as well as participating in suturing and arthrocentesis workshops.

Anand called the experience both humbling and enlightening.

Anand with his poster at the National ACP student poster competition.

“Being invited to attend and present my research at this National ACP meeting was an enriching experience, not only by attending the lectures and workshops, but also from learning about the groundbreaking research happening across the country,” he said.

Anand presented his poster, Pharmacological control of oxidative stress-mediated effects on endocannabinoid signaling pathways. He conducted his research at the Vision Research Center with Peter Koulen, Ph.D., director of basic research and Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research; and Christa Montgomery, Ph.D., research scientist at the Vision Research Center.

Anand earned a spot in the national poster competition last September when he won the student poster competition at the annual meeting of the Missouri chapter of the American College of Physicians.

After winning the Missouri competition, Anand continued his research prior to the national meeting. He said he is gathering data from the most recent experiments and had not made any major alterations to his poster or abstract.

Anand said he plans to continue his research efforts throughout medical school and his residency training.

“Research is the foundation on which new discoveries are made,” he said.

SOM students take part in national conference on student-run free clinics

Student members of the Kansas City Free Eye Clinic, Mrigank Gupta, Ravali Gummi, and Ahsan Hussain, presented a poster on the organization’s effect on the Kansas City community at the Society for Student Run Free Clinics National Conference in Anaheim, California.

Three fifth-year UMKC School of Medicine student members of the Kansas City Free Eye Clinic represented the organization and presented at the February meeting of the Society for Student Run Free Clinics National Conference in Anaheim, California.

Mrigank Gupta, Ravali Gummi, and Ahsan Hussain presented a poster, “Distinctive Demographics of an Inner City Free Eye Clinic,” that discussed a research project exploring the effects of the clinic on Kansas City’s population.

“The poster that we presented was unique because it was the only poster that focused on eye care in the underserved population,” Gupta said.

Members of the society viewed posters by student organizations from medical schools throughout the country. Participants heard an inspirational talk from Rumi Abdul Cader, M.D., who started a free clinic in Los Angeles while a medical student at the UCLA School of Medicine.

Gupta said the knowledge the students gained from the conference would help them improve the efficiency of the KCFEC and its outreach to Kansas City’s uninsured population.

Benefits of student research are worth the challenge, visiting professor says

Donald B. DeFranco, Ph.D., delivering the Dean’s Visiting Professor lecture on March 9.

Donald B. DeFranco, Ph.D., believes involving medical students in research has substantial benefits from developing analytical thinking skills to improving oral and written communication. DeFranco, a University of Pittsburgh research leader, shared his thoughts March 9 as part of the Dean’s Visiting Professor lecture series.

In his lecture, “The Benefits and Challenges of Engaging Medical Students in Faculty Research,” he drew on his experience as the Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s associate dean of medical student research and director of its summer research program.

DeFranco, also a professor and vice chair in that school’s Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, said Pittsburgh encouraged student research and worked hard to line up the hundreds of mentors required.

People from dean’s office administrators to surgeons help with the matching and often serve as mentors, he said. Finding the right mentor for each student was really the key to success, though he said it’s also important to give the students and their mentors incentives and recognition.

Producing physician scientists isn’t easy, DeFranco said, in part because “they really live in two different worlds.” One paper he cited said “medical training is about minimizing risk while medical research is more about increasing risk,” taking chances in search of breakthrough discoveries. Though he didn’t completely agree with that characterization, he said it was crucial to integrate research knowledge into practice.

DeFranco said he saw a couple of places in the 6-year UMKC program where a research project could make the most sense. The first is with Year 1 students, giving research a foothold from the outset in an education that already integrates humanities and clinical experience with patients. The second opportunity is in Year 5 because students “might have found their specialty by then,” he said.

DeFranco’s own areas of research encompass receptor pharmacology, neuropharmacology, signal transduction, cancer pharmacology and the pharmacology of cell and organ systems. His doctorate is in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University. He also was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California–San Francisco.

Applications due April 1 for Sarah Morrison research awards

The Office of Research Administration is taking applications for the next round of Sarah Morrison Student Research Awards. The next application deadline is April. 1.

Sarah Morrison awards are given twice a year to help students learn the value and application of research in the study and practice of medicine. Funding from the Sarah Morrison awards supports the student’s and their mentor’s research.

Students may be involved in and learn about a wide variety of research activities based on their interests in basic sciences or  clinical medicine. Students may develop their own hypothesis and work plan, or work on an established research project with their mentor. Recipients are expected to present their results at the SOM student research event or a similar venue as recommended by the Director of Student Research.

Project proposals are screened by a School of Medicine review committee. Visit the Sarah Morrison Student Research Award online for complete information, including a downloadable application form.

Research Summit posters, abstracts due March 17

Student Research Summit LogoSchool of Medicine students participating in the annual Health Sciences Research Summit are reminded that March 17 is the final deadline for abstract and poster submissions. This year’s research summit is April 26 at UMKC Student Union.

Students must submit  their abstracts through the Health Sciences Student Research Summit online portal. Posters must be submitted by email to the School of Medicine’s Office of Research Administration at somresearch@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., by contacting him at FoxworthJ@umkc.edu prior to submitting their poster to the research office.

Students can also sign up for a time to practice their presentations with Dr. Timothy Hickman prior to the research summit by sending an email to the research office at somresearch@umkc.edu.

Students from the schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Biological Sciences, Engineering and Arts & Science will take part in this year’s research summit from 3-5 p.m. in Room 401 of the Student Union. This is the sixth year that each of the schools are participating in the program at one venue on the Volker Campus.

The summit provides the UMKC health sciences students the opportunity to display posters that highlight their research and fosters collaboration across disciplines and schools that are generating economic, health, education and quality-of-life benefits for the Kansas City community.

The School of Medicine sponsors individual awards for medical students and its graduate students. Thirty-two students from the School of Medicine’s M.D. and Allied Health programs presented 34 posters at last year’s research summit.