Posters, lectures highlight Medical Student Research Day
Outstanding student research projects were featured Nov. 28 during the inaugural Medical Student Research Day. The Health Science Center's Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Support Grant and the medical dean's office helped to make Medical Student Research Day possible.
Dr. Sunil Ahuja, the distinguished speaker for Research Day, discussed his studies of the "Host genetic determinants of HIV-1 infection." Worldwide, 22 million people have died after exposure to strains of the human immunodeficiency virus and progression to acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The disease progression is not the same in each person. Dr. Ahuja's research addresses the question "Are all individuals equally susceptible to HIV/AIDS?" with the hypothesis that HIV-1 pathogenesis is a function of differences in expression of genes critical to the host response to HIV-1. "One combat zone in the HIV battlefield," he said, "is the individual's genetic makeup that either succumbs to viral entry into cells or else blocks it."
Dr. Ahuja is associate professor of medicine and microbiology at the Health Science Center and recently was named associate chair for research in the department of medicine.
Following the distinguished lecture, the most outstanding student poster presentations were recognized. "People don't know the extent to which medical students are involved in research at the Health Science Center," said Dr. Anthony Infante, associate dean for research in the School of Medicine. "This is important, because the way you look at things in a research experience enhances the way you look at a research report in the literature or even the way you evaluate a patient. Research represents a more curious, more in-depth way of thinking about a problem, and it is a way of thinking that can help you throughout your medical career."
"Research is an important Health Science Center mission, and the creation of new knowledge is essential for a good clinical practice," agreed Dr. Steven A. Wartman, executive vice president for academic and health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. "I expect every student to appreciate the value of research."
Dr. Infante thanked Dr. Ellen Kraig, cellular and structural biology, for chairing the poster judging committee. The judges made a distinction between medical students with previous experience at a national meeting vs. those whose experience was more limited.
Among those with previous experience at the national level, two students tied for first place and received a $1,000 prize: Robert "Cory" Waller, MS-III, and Amy Knutsen, MS-IV. Shelly Gunn, MS-IV, received a $500 prize in the same category.
Among those with more limited experience, Clifton "Dave" Fuller, MS-II, was awarded a $1,000 prize. Michael Muhlert, MS-II, was recognized with a $500 prize. Three students tied for a $250 prize: Gregory DeArmond, MS-II, Alka Mittal, MS-II, and Denae Waugh, MS-IV.