Medical students recognized at research forum

By Lin Lofley

Drs. Rene Galindo and George Buchanan (third from left, and third from right, respectively) visit with some of the 52nd annual Medical Student Research Forum honorees.
Drs. Rene Galindo and George Buchanan (third from left, and third from right, respectively) visit with some of the 52nd annual Medical Student Research Forum honorees.

A dozen UT Southwestern Medical School students were recognized recently for their research at the 52nd annual Medical Student Research Forum. In all, about 100 research abstracts were presented.

The work of six students was selected by judges for oral presentations. In addition to the abstracts, the poster session presented 54 entries.

Dr. George Buchanan, Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, and guest speaker for the event, offered the students some advice, but observed, "I think I'm preaching to the choir, because I think anybody who's doing the kind of quality research we've heard today already has the fire in the belly."

Dr. Buchanan, who received the 2013 Distinguished Clinical Science Educator Award from the Excellence in Education Foundation at UT Southwestern, urged the students to delve into their research.

"Ask how, ask why, and seek out an answer that may not be readily apparent," he said. "But it's there, if you probe enough.

"My advice to you is this: Become an expert in something important. Know more about it than anybody, more than your mentors, more than anybody locally or nationally or internationally. Be what I call a Google-ee. Rather than you Googling someone to find out who they are, have people Google your name."

Dr. Rene Galindo, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Molecular Biology, and Pediatrics, and Associate Dean for Medical Student Research, served as Program Director for the forum and was similarly impressed with the quality of the student-driven research.

"It's so stimulating to see our next generation of academic physicians undertaking such important clinical problems," he said. "And it's fascinating to see the issues that are being dissected that just a few years ago could not be tested."

The top two oral presenters were recognized with certificates and cash awards. The winners, their topics, and mentors were:

Khrishen Cunnusamy, MS1, "Neuroantigen-Specific Cd8 T Regulatory Cells: A New Member to the Therapeutic Toolkit Against Multiple Sclerosis." Mentors: Dr. Elliot Frohman, Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, and Ophthalmology; and Dr. Nitin J. Karandikar, former Professor of Pathology. (This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.)

Ernesto Llano, MS2, "Missense Mutation in Secretagogin as a Possible Cause of Ulcerative Colitis in Three Siblings." Mentor: Dr. Ezra Burstein, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Biology.

The other oral presenters were:

Brandon Jakubowski, MS2, "Generation of a Novel D. melanogaster Platform to Elucidate Oncogenic Activity of Common Human p53 Missense Mutants." Mentor: Dr. John Abrams, Professor of Cell Biology.

Soa-Yih Sher, MS2, "Variations in Melanoma Histopathology Reporting Influences Selection of Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsies in Thin Melanomas." Mentors: Dr. John C. Mansour, Assistant Professor of Surgery; Dr. Rohit R. Sharma, Assistant Professor of Surgery; Catherine McGilvray, Research Study Coordinator, Division of Surgical Oncology.

Cynthia Wei, MS2, "Contact Lens-Related Microbial Keratitis in a Novel Rabbit Model." Mentor: Dr. Danielle Robertson, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology.

James Ying, MS2, "Long Term Follow-up of Prostate Cancer Patients Who Fail Salvage Radiation Therapy and Radical Prostatectomy." Mentor: Dr. D. Nathan Kim, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology.

Poster session awards were presented to:

Daniel (Haibi) Cai, MS2, "Effects of Age and Diabetes on Corneal Epithelial Nerve Loss and the Corneal Epithelium in a Streptozotocin-induced Type-1 Diabetic Mouse Model." Mentors: Dr. Danielle Robertson, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr. Vindhya Koppaka, Postdoctoral Researcher in Ophthalmology, and Dr. Matthew Petroll, Professor of Ophthalmology.

Corbin Jacobs, MS3, "DAB2IP Pathway Protein Status in High-Risk Prostate Cancer Correlates With Outcomes for Patients Following Radiation Therapy." Mentor: Dr. D. Nathan Kim, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology.

Elizabeth Monier, MS2, "Gamification of Exercise and Its Application for Fall Prevention Among Patients with Diabetes and Peripheral Neuropathy." Collaborators: Bijan Najafi, Gurtej Grewal, Jackie Lee-Eng, Robert Menzies, Talal K. Talal, and David G. Armstrong.

Christina Mosher, MS2, "The Role of Arcuate AgRP Neurons in Ghrelin Food Reward Behavior." Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, and Psychiatry.

Rachita Navara, MS3, "Intravascular Ultrasonography Analysis of the AngiographiC Evaluation of the Everolimus-Eluting Stent in Chronic Total Occlusions (ACE-CTO trial)." Mentor: Dr. Emmanouil Brilakis, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine.

Robert (Carson) Sibley, MS2, "Identification of Drivers of Tumor Lymphangiogenesis in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer." Mentors: Dr. Rolf Brekken, Associate Professor of Surgery, and Pharmacology; and Dr. Michael Dellinger, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research.


Dr. Brekken is an Effie Marie Cain Research Scholar.

Dr. Buchanan holds the Children's Cancer Fund Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Oncology and Hematology.

Dr. Frohman holds the Irene Wadel and Robert I. Atha, Jr. Distinguished Chair in Neurology, named in his honor, and the Kenney Marie Dixon-Pickens Distinguished Professorship in Multiple Sclerosis Research.

Dr. Lotan holds the Helen J. and Robert S. Strauss Professorship in Urology.

Dr. Roehrborn holds the S.T. Harris Family Chair in Medical Science, in Honor of John D. McConnell, M.D., and the E.E. Fogelson and Greer Garson Fogelson Distinguished Chair in Urology.

Dr. Zigman holds The Diana and Richard C. Strauss Professorship in Biomedical Research, and the Mr. and Mrs. Bruce G. Brookshire Professorship in Medicine.