MAY 9, 2013

Symposium showcases broad scope of research by student scientists


Norbert von der Groeben description of photo

Thomas Roberts discusses his research on the effects of probiotics on infants in Bangladesh at the 30th annual Stanford Medical Student Research Symposium.

Premature babies, those with birth weights hovering around 2 pounds, are prone to bleeding in the brain that can lead to permanent brain damage. Lucy Schoen, a second-year medical student at Stanford, has designed and conducted an experiment she hopes will eventually provide a way to help physicians determine in advance which babies are at greatest risk for this condition.

"One of the possible contributing factors is a fluctuation in blood pressure over the first few days of the preterm baby's life," said Schoen, who presented the results of her pilot study May 2 at the 30th annual Stanford Medical Student Research Symposium. She set out to measure oxygen and blood pressure levels during the first few days of a preterm baby's life and was excited to see that early results showed a modest correlation between these fluctuations and brain bleeds.

"We were very surprised that with just 12 babies in the pilot study we found this association. It was weak, but it was there," said Schoen, who plans to continue her research, conducting measurements on larger numbers of babies.

Schoen was one of 45 MD and MD/PhD students who presented their research projects during the symposium at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge. From future stem cell researchers to budding international health experts, the aspiring physicians were available next to their poster boards to describe their work in detail for the crowd of faculty, staff and fellow students — and for the judges.

The aisles of poster boards represented months, and sometimes years, of original research carried out in laboratories, clinics and communities, both locally and abroad.

"Stanford has a great history of encouraging student research," said Laurence Baker, PhD, professor of health research and policy and director of medical student research. He noted that the symposium has successfully displayed novel student research for 30 years. "There is really a culture here that fosters this."

Pointing to the wealth of original research findings on display, Laurence said all medical students at Stanford complete at least one research project, and most produce multiple studies. More than half of the school's medical students have papers in publication by the time they graduate.

"Most students are doing new research," Baker said. "They are making a contribution to science."

Norbert von der Groeben description of photo

Students at the School of Medicine presented their research projects during the May 2 symposium held at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.

First-year medical student Thomas Roberts described his research project to several students and judges on the effects of probiotics on infants in Bangladesh. "We wanted to assess the safety in infants," Roberts said. "And determine the efficacy."

The goal of his ongoing investigation is to determine whether the use of probiotics in low-birth-weight infants in Bangladesh will help increase their weight and prevent acute diarrhea and necrotizing entercolitis, a medical condition in premature infants in which portions of the bowel undergo necrosis (tissue death). It is one of the most common causes of morbidity in premature infants in developing countries.

Nearby, second-year medical student Katherine Ransohoff, working together with her sister Julia, a high school student, discussed their research project involving the use of new immunosuppressive therapies to increase cell survival rates in mice receiving cardiac stem cell treatments.

"Cell survival increased from 10 days with traditional therapy to 35 days with the use of novel blockade agents," Ransohoff said. The young authors have submitted the study to a journal for publication.

Winners of 30th annual Medical Student Research Symposium poster presentations

  • Kipp Weiskopf, "Engineered sirpi variants as universal immunotherapeutic adjuvants to anti-cancer antibodies." Mentor: Irving Weisman, MD, professor of pathology and of developmental biology.
  • Ashley Valentine, "Scheduled ibuprofen plus acetaminophen provides better post-cesarean analgesia than scheduled ibuprofen alone." Mentor: Edward Riley, MD, professor of anesthesia.
  • Hiwot Araya, "Prevalence of anal dysplasia and HPV in inflammatory bowel disease patients." Mentor: Shamita Shah, MD, clinical assistant professor of gastroenterology and hepatology.
  • Jeremy Harris, "Intensity-modulated radiation therapy results in similar survival to 3D-conformal radiation for stage-3 non-small-cell lung cancer." Mentor: Maximilian Diehn, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiation oncology.
  • Sophie Su, "An engineered knottin peptide for optical imaging of medulloblastoma." Mentor: Matthew Scott, PhD, professor of developmental biology.
  • Aaron Sin, "Cost-effectiveness of shoulder arthroplasty for massive irreparable rotator cuff tears." Mentors: Emilie Cheung, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, and Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, PhD, assistant professor of medicine.
  • Daniel Austin, "Measuring physician group consolidation and its effects on price bargaining." Mentor: Laurence Baker, PhD, professor of health research and policy.
  • Lucy Schoen, "Cerebral oxygenation and auto regulation in preterm infants: association with morbidity and mortality." Mentor: Valerie Chock, MD, instructor in pediatrics.
  • Greg Gaskin, "Immunization coverage among juvenile justice detainees in a Northern California detention facility." Mentor: Arash Anoshiravani, MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics.
  • Alexander Fogel, "Pediatric dermatology in California: An assessment of need and access." Mentor: Joyce Teng, MD, PhD, clinical associate professor of dermatology and of pediatrics.

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