Tag Archives: Students

Biomedical research now a primary discipline of UMKC’s I-Ph.D. program

Jeremy Provance is one of four students in UMKC’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program with a primary emphasis on bioinformatics through the School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.

Four graduate students in UMKC’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. (I-Ph.D.) program have begun working toward their doctorate degree with a primary emphasis on bioinformatics through the School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.

The four started their coursework this semester, becoming the first students to pursue a Ph.D. through the School of Medicine.

The I-Ph.D. program allows students to work across disciplines to develop an individualized academic plan requiring a primary discipline and at least one co-discipline. In collaboration with the university’s School of Graduate Studies, the medical school has offered bioinformatics as a co-discipline since the fall semester of 2014. Bioinformatics has two co-discipline students who are on track to complete their degrees next May; one with a primary discipline in molecular biology and biochemistry, and the other with a primary discipline in engineering.

The School of Medicine also offers a master’s degree in bioinformatics and a graduate certificate in clinical research through the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.

“I feel like our co-discipline program has been successful because we have had students from so many different primary disciplines,” said Mary Gerkovich, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator for the I-Ph.D. discipline.

Through the bioinformatics emphasis, the students primarily focus on biomedical data and knowledge, with an emphasis on how to use that information in problem solving and decision making to develop the technology and processes that will shape future health care.

Gerkovich said the program helps students think about biomedical research in the context of interacting with people.

“We’re very excited with our initial group,” Gerkovich said. “We think they’re really strong students and it’s perfect that they all have different co-disciplines because it points out the intersection between what we’re doing and so many different units within the university.”

The students with primary disciplines in bioinformatics are studying co-disciplines in mathematics and statistics, cellular biology and biophysics, entrepreneurship, and computer sciences.

“In our little cohort of four students, we have a diverse mix of what they’ll be doing and the kind of research they’ll be working on,” Gerkovich said.

Jeremy Provance is a software analyst in the School of Medicine’s Center for Health Insights. He completed his master’s degree in bioinformatics last May and decided to continue in the I-Ph.D. program. He will be working largely in cardiovascular outcomes research with the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital.

Provance said a number of factors made the program appealing. The quality of faculty and the research at UMKC were the major factors, as well as the interdisciplinary aspect of the program.

“It ensures that I’m going to interact with related but separate disciplines to really dig deep and draw connections between bioinformatics and, in my case, entrepreneurship and innovation,” Provance said. “Being at the medical school means I have access to a lot of health science faculty in addition to everyone on the Volker campus. Biomedical and health informatics itself is largely interdisciplinary, so it’s a big plus to know faculty with a lot of varying expertise, even outside the department.”

David Walsh, another I-Ph.D. student, worked at the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Kansas State University for three years before moving to Kansas City about a year ago and discovering the program at UMKC. With a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology, Walsh began learning more about the relationship between genomics and bioinformatics. Now, he hopes to incorporate his interest in computer programming with finding process improvements for tracking samples and controls, and checking results.

“Using the tools of informatics, it’s possible to develop the targeted treatments that we need, and I want to be involved in helping our species overcome disease,” said Walsh.

Gerkovich said the I-Ph.D. program benefits both the university and the community. While it helps provide graduate students to support faculty research endeavors throughout UMKC and the School of Medicine, it is also developing a community resource.

“Our department has really put an emphasis on trying to develop collaborations with area institutions,” Gerkovich said. “One of our goals is to do exactly that, develop collaborations with corporations such as Cerner and our affiliate hospitals so that we have students working with people in those organizations. We’re training students to have the skills to contribute to those types of environments.”

Faris receives UMKC Project ADVANCER award

Third-year medical student Hunter Faris, left, has received a research award to work with John Q. Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Westport Anesthesia/Missouri Endowed Chair in Anesthesia Research.

Third-year medical student Hunter Faris has been selected for a student research award from the UMKC strategic funding award initiative, Project ADVANCER (Academic Development Via Applied aNd Cutting-Edge Research). The program supports research projects of UMKC undergraduate and professional students from underrepresented minorities.

Faris will be working with faculty mentor, John Q. Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Westport Anesthesia/Missouri Endowed Chair in Anesthesia Research, to establish a previously unrecognized mechanism underlying the regulation of neuronal activities. His project, Regulation of Src Family Protein Kinases in the Rat Striatum by Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor, could significantly advance the knowledge of receptor signaling and protein kinases biology.

Project ADVANCER is a UMKC initiative to provide students the opportunity to gain experience and build a “track record” in research. That experience will provide students better access to competitive postgraduate training such as residencies or graduate programs and, ultimately, to better employment opportunities.

Students who have identified a UMKC faculty mentor in the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geosciences; School of Biological Sciences; School of Computing and Engineering; School of Medicine; or School of Nursing and Health Studies may jointly develop an application for a Project ADVANCER award with their faculty mentor.

Faris and Wang expect to produce results that will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Med school experience begins for Class of 2023

Joshua Hill received the 2017 Richard T. Garcia Memorial Award at the School of Medicine’s annual InDOCtrination Ceremony.

Looking out at the faces of the 106 first-year medical students, Joshua Hill remembered being in their shoes. It was just a year ago when he sat where they were August 18 during the UMKC School of Medicine’s annual InDOCtrination Ceremony.

“I was happily terrified of what was beginning,” said Hill, now a second-year medical student.

This year’s InDOCtrination marked the beginning of a six-year medical school journey for the Class of 2023. Hill address the audience as recipient of the school’s 2017 Richard T. Garcia Award. The honor recognizes a second-year student for outstanding leadership skills, compassion toward fellow classmates, and outstanding academic performance throughout Year 1.

More photos from 2017 InDOCtrination Ceremony

First-year students are introduced at the 2017 UMKC School of Medicine InDOCtrination Ceremony.

During the ceremony at the UMKC Student Union, the students were introduced to family and friends according to their docent units. After two years with their Years 1-2 docents, the students will join Years 3-6 docent units as they advance to the more intense clinical portion of their medical school training.

Sharing his first-year med school experiences, Hill talked of how his first and second-year docent, Michael Monaco, M.D., ’87, expertly and compassionately treated a particular patient.

“I knew, right there, that I had learned what kind of person I want to be as a physician,” he said. “And that’s a lesson that I was so lucky to have learned this early in life.”

Hill said that each member of this year’s class of students would soon begin to build on their own remarkable medical school experiences and forge memories that will last a lifetime.

“You will see that there is so much more to look forward to through the first year,” he said.

School of Medicine to sponsor Aug. 19 career fair

The School of Medicine’s Career Services Office has planned the next career fair for all students from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Aug. 19 at the School of Dentistry cafeteria.

The program offers students the opportunity to meet and talk with medical specialists and explore different career paths in specialties including:

  • Anesthesiology
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Medical Genetics
  • Neurological Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Psychiatry
  • Radiology—Diagnostics
  • Surgery

All students are invited. No registration is necessary. Free lunch will be provided.

White Coat Ceremony marks a rite of passage

Third-year medical students celebrated on Aug. 6 after taking part in the School of Medicine’s annual White Coat Ceremony.

For third-year medical students at the UMKC School of Medicine, the White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage that marks a transition to the more intensive clinical phase of their medical school training. With that comes the responsibilities of humanism and professionalism.

“Each year, medical students throughout the United States accept these responsibilities as they receive their first white coats. Soon, you will be part of this distinctive group, and I encourage you to wear your coat with pride,” Jill Moormeier, Chair of the Department of Medicine, told this year’s class on at the 2017 White Coat Ceremony at White Recital Hall.

The ceremony unites students who spent the majority of their first two years studying on the Volker Campus with their new docent units at Hospital Hill and Saint Luke’s Hospital. It marks the start of their final four years of clinical training.

View more 2017 White Coat Ceremony Photos

Sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the White Coat Ceremony emphasizes the importance of compassionate care for patients and proficiency in both the art and the science of medicine. It has been a tradition at the UMKC School of Medicine since 2003.

Sarthak Garg represented his classmates by reading the Class of 2021 Philosophy of Medicine, a compilation of the students’ thoughts about the profession of medicine.

Part of that philosophy reads, “Being a medical professional is a privilege. It is a special opportunity to help people with technical skills and express the love of humanity by constant studying and showing compassion. I can think of no better way to spend my life than that.”

The class also honored Amgad Masoud, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and both a Years 1 and 2 Docent and Years 3-through-6 Docent for the Gold 3 Unit. Masoud received the 2017 Outstanding Year 1 and 2 Docent Teaching Award. It was the third time Masoud has received the award as selected by first- and second-year students.

Then came the highlight of the event: students learning new docent team assignments and being cloaked in their new white coats.

“Today, the white coat signifies the formal relationship that exists between physicians and patients,” Moormeier said. “It also serves as a reminder of the obligation that we have to practice medicine with clinical competence and compassion.”

School of Medicine welcomes largest class of Summer Scholars

High School students from throughout Kansas City took part in an orientation session for the 2017 UMKC School of Medicine Summer Scholars program on Friday, July 7.

July at the UMKC School of Medicine is a time for high school students to immerse themselves in the school’s annual Summer Scholars Program. The activity has been providing opportunities for minority and disadvantaged students in the Kansas City metropolitan area to get a head start on a potential career in health care for 37 years.

This summer’s class is the largest ever with 78 students signed up to take part, nearly 30 more students than a year ago.

Darius Jackson serves as coordinator of the School of Medicine’s diversity programs, including Summer Scholars. He said the growth is partly by design and partly out of necessity to meet a growing need.

“I was a little ambitious,” Jackson said. “We had around 300 applications for Summer Scholars this year. We kept seeing the number of applications increase and decided, let’s find a way to increase our numbers instead of turning away more students.”

The solution was to expand the program by adding a third two-week session and allowing in more first-time participants.

Previously, all students in the program for the first time were in the Summer Scholars group, and those returning for a second year were in the Advanced Summer Scholars program. This year, one class of first-year scholars was made up of high school juniors and the other consisted of high school seniors. Students returning for a second year of the program still participate in the Advanced Summer Scholars program.

Prior to starting the program, students and parents from all three groups participated in an orientation session. The full two-week session for juniors begans Monday, July 10, with seniors starting a week later and the Advanced Summer Scholars beginning the week after that.

Each year, Summer Scholars receive daily instruction in academic areas such as chemistry and language arts, and study anatomy and physiology in the school’s cadaver lab. Classroom experiences range from medical terminology and understanding health disparities to ACT and standardized test taking. Summer Scholars also experience different medical services such as emergency and outpatient medicine, rehabilitation, and nursing, as well as surgery.

The advanced program includes a research component and additional experiences in various clinical rotations.

Summer Scholars prepares students for a career in health care by helping them build a foundation for success in multiple areas including interview skills, study and test-taking strategies, and interpersonal and communication skills.

School of Medicine seeks nominations for annual awards

The School of Medicine is accepting nominations for three upcoming faculty, staff and student awards in the areas of diversity and health equity, mentoring and medical education research.

The Excellence in Diversity and Health Equity in Medicine Awards recognizes an individual or organization that has demonstrated sustained and impactful contribution to diversity, inclusion and cultural competency or health equity. The award is given to a student or student organization, and to faculty, staff, resident and/or organization/department.

Nominees should be those who have made consistent contributions to diversity, inclusion, cultural competency or health equity through one or more of the following:

  • Recruiting and/or retaining a diverse student or faculty body;
  • Facilitating an inclusive environment for success of all;
  • Working to promote health equity and the elimination of health disparities;
  • Strengthening efforts to develop or implement cultural competency strategies that improve health-care delivery.

Nomination materials should be sent to the attention of Cynthia Ginn in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at ginnc@umkc.edu.

Two Betty M. Drees, M.D., Excellence in Mentoring Awards are presented each year. The Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award is for a faculty member with the rank of professor. The Excellence in Mentoring Award goes to a faculty member who is either an associate or assistant professor.

The awards recognize the significant contributions mentors make to enhance and develop the careers of our faculty and trainees. Characteristics of successful mentoring include generosity, listening, objectivity, and constructive feedback regarding career and professional/personal development.

The second annual Louise E. Arnold, Ph.D., Excellence in Medical Education Research Award will be given to a tenure track or nontenure track faculty member who has contributed to innovation and scholarship related to medical education at UMKC School of Medicine for a minimum of five years.

Nominations for the mentoring and medical education research awards should be sent to Dr. Rebecca R. Pauly, M.D., chair, selection committee, at paulyr@umkc.edu.

Winners of the awards will be announced on Sept. 7 during the annual Faculty Promotion and Awards reception at 4 p.m. in Theater B.

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



Running’s a nice break from School of Medicine studies for 5K winner

Jordann Dhuse shared her division winner’s medal with her dog, Milo.

When fourth-year student Jordann Dhuse crossed the finish line at the 2017 UMKC School of Medicine 5K, she wondered what all the fuss was about.

“I was shocked when I realized I had won my division,” said Dhuse, first among the 930 women in the June 2 race.

“I haven’t run all that many races,” said Dhuse, who enjoyed other sports in high school but took up running just a few years ago. “I had won my age group before, but not my division.”

Dhuse runs more “as a way to decompress from studying” than to be competitive, she said. But she does push herself to improve, and her time in this year’s 5K, 23:11, was almost two and a half minutes better than a year ago, when she placed 30th in the women’s division.

“I try to fit in a run most days, three miles if I’m lucky,” she said, and often can be seen running near the school, or walking her dog, Milo.

“He’s a long-haired chihuahua, so he doesn’t run with me,” she said. “But I let him wear my race medal. I think it weighs more than he does.”

It was the fourth year that the 5K took place the Friday evening before the Hospital Hill 10K and Marathon. The move was made to make the shorter race more family friendly, and it draws parents pushing strollers, along with many teams from various workplaces and non-profits.

“I like the atmosphere of this race,” said Dhuse. “You get families, people in town for the weekend, different groups.”

UMKC School of Medicine advancement director Fred Schlichting congradulates Jordann Dhuse.

Dhuse is from the Chicago area and came to UMKC after earning a bachelor’s degree in health science at the University of Missouri.

“I followed my brother, Kyle, to Columbia,” she said. “He’s a year older and fell in love with the campus.”

Then Dhuse decided to go on for a medical degree and was happy she was accepted at UMKC.

“I was attracted by the program’s whole approach, especially the docent system,” she said. “I love being on a team.”

Many of her Gold 3 docent mates are different from her in at least one respect: “I’m interested in emergency medicine, and most of them are interested in internal or family medicine. But we support each other.”

Eight SOM students receive MSMA scholarships

Missouri State Medical Association scholarships recipients: front row, left to right: Alice Hwang, Eryn Wanyonyi, Julia Clem, Forrest Kent; back row, left to right: Jason Tucker, Nicholas Keeven, Dr. David Wooldridge, School of Medicine alumna and MSMA member, Luke He, Dr. Fred Hahn, MSMA member. Not pictured: Haley Mayenkar

Eight students from the UMKC School of Medicine were recently awarded scholarships for the 2017-18 school year from the Missouri State Medical Association.

This year’s recipients are Julia Clem, Luke He, Alice Hwang, Nicholas Keeven, Forrest Kent, Haley Mayenkar, Jason Tucker and Eryn Wanyonyi.

The organization awards the scholarships annually to fourth-year medical students who are graduates of a Missouri high school.

MSMA was formed in 1850 by Missouri physicians and serves as a voice for the medical profession, physicians and their patients. The organization includes a Medical Student Section to address issues pertaining to students studying to obtain a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy degree. Three UMKC students, Kartik Sreepada, Muhammed Alikhan and Timothy Chow, served as student section state officers during the 2016-17 school year.