(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — More than fifty Texas A&M Health Science Center (HSC) students presented their scholarly research on Thursday, April 15 as part of the 15th Annual Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Student Research Symposium at the HSC-College of Medicine’s Joe H. Reynolds Medical Building. By providing students an opportunity to showcase scholarly research in a collaborative, peer-reviewed structure, the Graduate Research Symposium is the only event of its kind that emphasizes a professional approach to the science behind medicine across all HSC components.

Fifty-eight graduate, post-doctoral, medical and public health students submitted abstracts of their research, and 10 presented their research to the attendees in Lecture Hall 1 throughout the day.  The remaining students displayed posters of their work in Medical Sciences Library lounge. 

Forty-three participants were from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences which includes graduate students from all of the HSC’s colleges and schools.  Additionally, 12 students from the College of Medicine, two students from the School of Rural Public Health in College Station, and one student from the Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston participated.

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Van G. Wilson, Ph.D., cited three reasons for the importance of the symposium, reasons, he said, have led to the success and longevity of the program.

“The Graduate Research Symposium allows students to practice presenting their results in a critical environment,” Dr. Wilson said.  “This is also an entirely student-run program.  From the room reservations and food to finding a keynote speaker, the students handle everything.  Ultimately, the collaboration between HSC schools, colleges and components provides the intellectual stimulation so vital to our research endeavors.”

First-year graduate student and researcher in the HSC-College of Medicine’s Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, Joanne Damborsky added that the symposium centers around collaboration and shared knowledge.

“The symposium gives us the chance to gather as students from all disciplines and showcase our work,” Damborsky said.  “We also get to find out what work is being done in other departments, what our colleagues are doing in other areas.”
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The students’ posters and presentations included clinical research on surgery, commercially available drugs, inflammation, stem cell/progenitor cells, pharmacology, molecular bases of diseases and pathogenesis among other topics from across the HSC. 

Keynote speaker Peter Setlow, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Molecular, Microbial and Structural Biology at the University of Connecticut Health Center, spoke on the resistance of bacterial spore DNA to damage, a topic that related well to all the researchers present.  Dr. Setlow also stressed the valuable experience and professional development that students gain at the Graduate Research Symposium. 

“This symposium is an important opportunity that provides a safe environment for students to discuss their work,” Dr. Setlow said.  “It exposes the students to peer review and positive critical feedback.  The students, in turn, gain experience in defending their work, which they must constantly do as they become professional scientists.”

— Dhwani Chauhan