Jonaphine Mata presents her poster

Medical student research program participants share findings

Medical students network at inaugural Medical Scholar Research Pathway Program-sponsored 2020 Medical Research Colloquium
June 3, 2020

The Texas A&M College of Medicine’s Office of Medical Student Research Education hosted its inaugural Medical Research Colloquium Feb. 6 at the Round Rock Clinical Campus. A total of 26 medical students from all five of the college’s campuses (Bryan-College Station, Dallas, Houston, Round Rock and Temple) presented scholarly research and among them six first-year medical (M1) students gave formal research poster presentations.

“Many of the research abstracts and poster presentations of this colloquium are products of our Medical Scholar Research Pathway Program which provides research opportunities for medical students across our multi-campus Texas A&M medical school,” said Gloria Conover, PhD, director of the Office of Medical Student Research Education.

The colloquium included oral talks and poster sessions presented by pre-clinical and clinical medical students, a keynote speaker and award announcements at the end of the day. Certificates and commemorative t-shirts were gifted to all student participants.

The colloquium’s keynote speaker was Chetan Jinadatha, MD, MPH, clinical associate professor at the College of Medicine and chief of infectious diseases at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. His talk was titled “Use of whole genome sequencing in prevention of healthcare-associated infections.”

Jinadatha’s talk was about the benefits that come from integrating basic science into the clinical environment.

“His talk enormously resonated with our medical student researchers,” Conover said. “He is a great example of someone our students can look up to because of his extensive experience treating hospital acquired infections.”

Three awards for research presentations were given to four students. Best podium presentation was awarded to second-year student James Brandon Dickey for his in-depth literature review on Gulf War illness. Dickey worked with Ashok K. Shetty, PhD, associate director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine and professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine at the College of Medicine.

“Dr. Shetty is one of the most intelligent professionals that I have ever worked with,” Dickey said. “I feel privileged to get to work with him on a topic that he provides so much research for. His mentorship has helped me to become a better scientist, presenter and writer. I am grateful to the Medical Scholar Research Pathway Program at Texas A&M College of Medicine because it gives students an opportunity to work with professionals who are on the cutting edge of discovery and who want to see their students succeed.”

The award for best clinical poster was shared between two groups that received equal scores from the judges. One of the groups was composed of third-year students Timothy Fan and Logan Dubose, under the mentorship of Carlos Sisniega, MD, pediatric resident from Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi. They presented a case study of liver injury related to e-cigarette use. Their work was recently published as a case report in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in April.

The other winner was third-year student Jonaphine Rae Mata, who presented a patient case study describing a rare autoimmune disorder. She worked under the mentorship of the Hematology Oncology resident James Hall, MD, at Baylor Scott & White Health.

“My classmates presented projects that were exemplary, and thus being rewarded as the best clinical poster was quite an honor to receive, one that I definitely did not expect or foresee,” Mata said. “Presenting my findings, especially on a patient who, to our knowledge, is the only one in the world with this rare manifestation of her disease, further heightened my excitement. It also made me feel like I was contributing to the medical field in furthering the understanding of a rare disease.”

The Medical Research Colloquium aims to promote scholarly research from Texas A&M medical students by showing the results of those students who have had the opportunity to collaborate with faculty mentors and residents in their research.

The Medical Research Colloquium was planned and organized by Conover in partnership with Vincent VanBureen, PhD, FAHA, instructional assistant professor in the Department of Medical Education at the College of Medicine.

“Special thanks go to Ms. Vicky Pilsner and Dr. Selina Nigli and the student assistants from the Office of Medical Student Education for playing a central role in the preparations for this Colloquium,” Conover said. “The medical students and faculty who have participated in the Medical Scholar Research Pathway Program are very enthusiastic about the mission of the Office of Medical Student Research Education to promote, monitor and facilitate scholarly research activity.”

— Gracie Blackwell