(ROUND ROCK, TX) — For the first time, nine Texas A&M Health Science Center (HSC) College of Medicine students presented their scholarly research on Wednesday, March 24 as part of the Inaugural Scholarly Day at the HSC’s new Round Rock campus. By providing students an opportunity to showcase scholarly research across multiple disciplines, Scholarly Day emphasizes a well-rounded approach to the science behind medicine. The event was teleconferenced to the HSC-College of Medicine campuses in College Station, Houston and Temple.

HSC President and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for The Texas A&M System Dr. Nancy W. Dickey brought greetings from the Health Science Center and spoke on the importance of continuous scientific inquiry.

“We are indeed evolving the medical curriculum,” Dr. Dickey said. “We are teaching a new way to learn, and I have high hopes that today is the preface to a new chapter in medical education. By emphasizing this kind of scientific curiosity, we are teaching medical students how to ask the important questions, how to find the answers and how to continually update their basic science portfolio of knowledge.”

In addition to several patient case studies, the students’ presentations included research on tinnitus (ringing in the ear), lymphoma and Alzheimer’s disease. Third-year student Jay Ferrell offered his findings on lymphoma and its traditional method of treatment called CHOP.

“We know that an estimated 50 percent of lymphoma patients will develop chemo-resistant lymphoma,” he said. “Our research shows that adding small pieces of RNA to specific areas of genes allows us to suppress the resistance to CHOP therapy. In essence, we could potentially reverse chemo-resistance.”

The American Medical Association President and College of Medicine Professor Dr. James Rohack was also on hand to speak on health care reform just a day after the national health care reform bill was signed into law. Dr. Rohack emphasized the importance of science in practicing medicine today.

“We as physicians should be driven by science to the important discussion points,” Dr. Rohack said. “What’s best for the patient? Can we manage the disease with medication or a procedure? Knowing the science will help us answer those questions and help us educate our patients.”

Dr. Edward Sherwood, interim dean of the College of Medicine, thanked the Round Rock community for their support of the Health Science Center and the College of Medicine in Williamson County.

“We are profoundly appreciative of the community’s support and for helping us bring this new campus to life,” he said. “We also appreciate the Health Science Center’s administrators for leading the way in training multidisciplinary physicians.”

Organizer Dr. Mohsen Shabahang, assistant professor of surgery, thanked the members of the College of Medicine Year III Curriculum Committee and the student presenters, noting that all of the presenters had volunteered to take part in Scholarly Day.

Dr. Dickey closed by saying, “By making Scholarly Day a permanent part of the medical curriculum, we have chosen to be leaders, and we have set this as a part of our mission to be exceptional educators.” She paraphrased the father of modern medicine Sir William Osler by reminding the students, “To be a good physician, you must be committed to a lifetime of learning. In years to come, we will point to you, the students, as the product of our educational model.”

— Dhwani Chauhan