Medical student to receive research award at spine conference

Kavelin Rumalla
Kavelin Rumalla

Kavelin Rumalla, a second-year B.A./M.D. student, is traveling to a spine conference sponsored by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons to accept an award.

On March 17, Rumalla will receive a Charlie Kuntz Scholar Award at Spine Summit 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Rumalla’s award is based on an abstract he submitted, “Spinal Fusion for Pediatric Spondylolisthesis: National Trends, Complications, and Short-Term Outcomes.”

Rumalla will present the research during a platform session for Charlie Kuntz Scholar Award winners. He will also receive a certificate of achievement and a $1,000 honoraria.

The presentation stems from a research experience Rumalla completed after his first year in the B.A./M.D. program. Rumalla worked with a neurosurgeon at Washington University who does spine surgery research.

Rumalla became interested in neurological surgery after watching his younger brother, who has epilepsy, benefit from a surgical procedure. “I saw what a difference it made in his life,” he said.

The spinal fusion paper was based on a retrospective database study. Rumalla combed the data to determine which spine surgery techniques have the fewest complications. “Surgeons won’t change their techniques until there is epidemiological evidence that it’s better,” he said.

Later this spring, Rumalla will present five other studies he completed at Washington University at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons scientific meeting in Chicago.

The pursuit of knowledge began for Rumalla before he entered the UMKC School of Medicine. In the summer of 2014, he took part in education program at Washington University that enabled him to work alongside an otolaryngologist. They published a paper on the effect of hearing aids on postural stability.

Upon arriving at UMKC, Rumalla found a mentor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. In February, Rumalla traveled to Los Angeles to present several of their studies at the International Stroke Conference.

Rumalla would like to become a neurosurgeon. He aspires to join the faculty at a university hospital and divide his time between clinical practice and research. The clinical practice, he said, will “guide me as to what these patients need, what types of things are deficient right now in the literature, and what can I contribute.”

According to Raymond Cattaneo, M.D. ’03, M.P.H., assistant dean for years 1 and 2 medicine, “Kavelin has proven himself a successful student and is well on his way to becoming an influential researcher and educator.”