Sarah Morrison recipients include two from Bioinformatics program

Recipients of the Sarah Morrison Student Research Award for October 2012 include: Rohan Bandara, Vritti Gupta, Laalasa Varanasi, Agostino Molteni, M.D., Ph.D., director of student research, Nishika Muddasani, Tiffany Mao, Blake Montgomery and Erica Heitman. Not pictured: Scott Helgeson and Laura Schoeneberg.

Student research at the School of Medicine is expanding its reach. For the first time, two students from the Masters of Science in Bioinformatics program joined a group seven medical students as recipients of Sarah Morrison Student Research Awards.

The Medical Student Research Program, which presents the student research grants twice a year, recently announced the list of October 2012 recipients.

Agostino Molteni, M.D., Ph.D., director of student research, said he was excited to have students from the School’s allied health programs participate in the most recent awards process and expand the areas of student research taking place at the School of Medicine.

Erica Heitman and Rohan Bandara are the first two graduate students in the School’s bioinformatics program to receive the Sarah Morrison research awards. The Sarah Morrison award was recently opened to students in both the School’s Master of Science programs for Bioinformatics and Anesthesiologist Assistants.

The application deadline for the next round of Sarah Morrison Student Research Awards is April 1, 2013. Complete application information and the necessary application forms can be found online at

The latest research award recipients, their research topics, and mentors include:

  • Vritti Gupta, MS 4, Patients’ understanding of hypertension and perceived barriers to risk factors control: a mixed-methods approach to examining care at the Sojourner Free Health Clinic, Lakshmi Venkitachalam, Ph.D., assistant professor of bioinformatics.
  • Scott Helgeson, MS 4, A Retrospective Analysis for Indications and Outcomes of Temporal Artery Biopsy for Temporal Arteritis, Daniel Margolin, M.D., assistant professor of surgery.
  • Tiffany Mao, MS 4, Expression of FGF Receptors in a Mouse Model of Chronic Kidney Disease, Mike Wacker, Ph.D., assistant teaching professor of basic medical science.
  • Blake Montgomery, MS 4, Disease-mediated changes in Ca2+ channel expression and protein-protein interactions with Homer by RGCs in glaucoma, Peter Koulen, Ph.D., professor of basic medical science and Felix and Carmen Sabates/Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research.
  • Nishika Muddasani, MS 4, Conditions of illumination influence the expression of purines in the outer retina, Sal Stella, Ph.D., professor of basic medical science.
  • Laura Schoeneberg, MS 6, Outcomes Following Prolonged ECMO Support in Children with Cardiac Disease-ELSO (Extacorporeal Life Support Organization) Registry Study, Geetha Raghuveer, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics.
  • Laalasa Varanasi, MS 4, The Relationship Between Asthma and IgG Response to Helicobacter pylori, Betty Herndon, Ph.D., research associate professor.
  • Erica Heitman, The Utility of Umbilical Doppler in Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes, Mary Gerkovich, Ph.D., associate professor of bioinformatics.
  • Rohan Bandara, Understanding the Relationship Between Barriers to Timely Primary Care and Emergency Department Utilization across Insurance Categories – Report from the National Health Interview Survey (1999-2011), Lakshmi Venkitachalam, Ph.D., assistant professor of bioinformatics.

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