The School of Medicine’s Acuff Gallery buzzed with conversation Nov. 13 on Health Sciences Research Day. The annual event was a chance for students and their project faculty mentors to present health research and education innovations to judges and to scientists interested in the area of study.
One hundred and forty-one posters outlining each project were displayed. Presenting in the morning were undergraduates, medical students, Conley Scholars and summer research fellowship participants. Presenting in the afternoon were graduate students, resident physicians, medical fellowship physicians and postdoctoral researchers. Awards for the most impressive projects, as well as a research faculty award, were given out in Bryant Auditorium.
“This event allows MU’s best and brightest students an opportunity to showcase the exceptional research that’s happening” within the health system, said Harold A. Williamson Jr., executive vice chancellor of health affairs. “We take great pride in our students’ novel studies in health sciences research, which might ultimately develop new treatments and better lives for patients.”
Though project titles sounded a bit daunting to a layperson, the objectives, methods and results of the work were presented pretty clearly on the posters. One poster, for example, explained the findings of a study that examined if there was a link between sleep deprivation and aggression in children with autism spectrum disorder. The study suggested there is. “Sleep disturbances are not treated as primary concerns in [autism spectrum disorder]; the findings of this study may change the way that sleep problems are managed within the context of this disorder,” an abstract of the report said.
Student projects included one or more faculty mentors. Involved in the autism project were Greg Cejas, a second-year medical school student, and resident physicians Emaya Anbalagan and Garima Singh. The faculty mentors were Rachel Brown, associate dean for student programs and professional development, and Kristin Sohl, medical director at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders and advocacy director for the Department of Child Health.
During a presentation in Bryant Auditorium, 15 student research awards were given. Also, the Dorsett L. Spurgeon, MD, Distinguished Medical Research Award was presented to a science researcher. The Spurgeon award is a way for the medical school to highlight world-class research by an up-and-coming scientist.
This year, the award went to Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Leidy’s research suggests that the consumption of a higher-protein breakfast is a potential dietary strategy to improve appetite control, diet quality and weight management in overweight young people. The research could be important in combating obesity and chronic ailments associated with the malady. Leidy received a plaque and a $5,000 check at the event.
Three Dean’s Awards were presented to health sciences students for their research abstracts. The winners received a plaque and a $500 check.
• Sara Tepe, a second-year medical student mentored by Aneesh Tosh, associate professor in the Department of Child Health, won the School of Medicine Dean’s Award for Outstanding Student Research for her project, “Adenovirus-36 Antibody Status and BMI Comparison Among Obese and Healthy-weight Missouri Adolescents.”
• Andrew Hathaway, a graduate student in health psychology mentored by Victoria Shaffer, assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences, won the School of Health Professions Dean’s Award for Outstanding Student Research for his project, “Predictors of Accuracy in Choosing a Health Care Plan.”
• Colleen Becker, a doctoral nursing student mentored by Deidre Wipke-Tevis, associate professor and director of the nursing school’s doctoral program, and Lorraine Phillips, associate professor and John A. Hartford Foundation Claire M. Fagin Fellow, won the Sinclair School of Nursing Dean’s Award for Outstanding Student Research. Her project was “Meta-analysis of Risk Factors Contributing to Surgical Patient Hospital-acquired Pressure Ulcers.”
The day also included a keynote address in Acuff Auditorium by Mizzou alumnus Irl Hirsch, a professor and Diabetes Treatment and Teaching Chair at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. Hirsch spoke about a recent clinical trial he was involved in on diabetes. In the morning, a student panel was held in Acuff Auditorium on medical school research from a students’ perspective.