Medical student named NIH Medical Research Scholar

Sachin Nair
Sachin Nair

Medical student Sachin Nair was accepted into a yearlong research enrichment program at the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH Medical Research Scholars Program enables medical, dental and veterinary students to participate in basic, clinical or translational research on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, or at other NIH facilities.

Nair said he is interested in the application of engineering and mathematical concepts in medicine. He will work with an assigned mentor at the NIH to find a lab. This process will take place through August, the program’s first month.

Nair visited the NIH in the spring. While there, he met Catherine Spong, M.D. ’91, acting director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “I’m truly inspired by what she’s accomplished in her career,” Nair said of the UMKC School of Medicine alumna. “She provided me excellent advice and encouragement regarding my future research pursuits and aspirations.”

Around the time of his NIH visit, Nair was offered a spot in a two-week summer course in computational neuroscience at the University of Columbia-Missouri. Sponsored by the NIH’s BRAIN Initiative, the program runs June 6–17.

“I’m currently fascinated with the brain and how little is understood about certain pathophysiologic mechanisms,” Nair said. “Applying engineering and math concepts might provide better insight into both understanding these mechanisms, as well as discovering medical solutions.”

Admitted into the B.A./M.D. program in 2012, Nair will spend a year in the Medical Scholars Research Program. When he returns to UMKC next summer, he will join the Class of 2019 for his final two years in the combined degree program.

Nair thanked Michael Wacker, Ph.D., assistant dean for student medical research; Paul Cuddy, Pharm.D., senior associate dean for academic affairs; and Dean Steven L. Kanter for the support and guidance he received.

“I look forward to conducting a year of research at the NIH and I hope it will help provide me valuable experience and a strong foundation to later pursue a research-oriented career,” he said.

Nair is the third UMKC medical student to be named an NIH Medical Research Scholar. Dean Merrill, a four-year M.D. student, is one of 55 students in the current crop of scholars. Blake Montgomery, a B.A./M.D. student in the Class of 2016, went through the program in 2013-14.

Joining Nair in using 2016-17 as a research year is Omar Karadaghy. A fifth-year B.A./M.D. student, Karadaghy will take part in a 12-month clinical and translational research experience at Washington University in St. Louis.

Medical students are also pursuing research opportunities outside of UMKC for periods of less than a year:

— Muhammed Alikhan will participate in the National Institutes of Health Medical Student Summer Research Training Program in Diabetes and Obesity Research at Vanderbilt University.

— Yicheng Bao was admitted to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Medical Student Summer Research Program at Washington University.

— Comron Hassanzadeh, the 2016 recipient of the Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship, will spend five months at Washington University continuing his research into the use of PET/CT scans to predict clinical outcomes for cervical cancer patients.

— Shirene Philipose will work in the lab of Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Laboratory Science at Saint Louis University.