In May, BCOM hosted its first Medical Student Research Day. The event, organized by several BCOM faculty members, was designed to celebrate student research accomplishments and to provide an opportunity to present their research projects to fellow students and faculty.

All BCOM students engaged in research projects were encouraged to attend and participate in the event. Assistant Professor of Cell Biology Steven Ontiveros, Ph.D., who chaired the event, said the day is also intended to help students learn the process of presenting research. “It’s set up for the students so they can see what takes place at a national conference. This year they learned how to present their work in poster format, and eventually we would like to incorporate oral presentations as well,” he said. “We’d like to keep growing the event and make it an annual occurrence.”

While research projects are not mandatory in the BCOM curriculum, Dr. Ontiveros estimated about 30 percent of the students are engaging in research. A total of 18 posters were presented by both first and second year medical students with five awards given for outstanding research. Posters were judged by a team of 10 faculty members based on novelty of content, significance of work, scientific approach, level of completion, depth of knowledge, overall organization, and clarity of presentation.

The overall winner of Best Research Poster (and first place winner in the clinical sciences and OMT category) went to second year student Victor Liao for his project titled “Regularly Applied Lymphatic Pump Technique Reduces Duration of Upper Respiratory Infections.” Prior to attending BCOM, Liao participated in numerous research studies including an extensive stem cell study with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “They really taught me to think critically, work as a team, analyze data and results, and ultimately, carry myself professionally in presenting my works to the research community. From the very beginning of my days here at BCOM, I knew I wanted to take these skill sets and apply them to my medical career,” he said. “When Dr. Laboy and Dr. Shipley announced they were going to initiate a pilot osteopathic study here at BCOM, it peaked my interest immediately. I am deeply invested in broadening my understanding of osteopathy, as well as participating in true clinical research.”

Liao and the other first place winners in each category each received a $250 award and an invite to attend dinner with the event’s keynote speaker Howard S. Teitelbaum, DO, PhD, MPH, FAOCOPM (dist.), professor emeritus at both Michigan State University and the Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), and distinguished fellow of the American Osteopathic College of Occupational and Preventive Medicine. As the grand prize winner, Liao will also receive an all-expenses paid trip to Galveston, Texas to present his research at the National Student Research Forum.

“Dinner with Dr. Teitelbaum was wonderful and he gave me, as well as the other winners, great advice on how to continue to expand on what we have done so far with research and how that can be translated into practical applications to our future careers,” Liao said. “One of the key points that I personally took away from Dr. Teitelbaum was about how tremendously research experiences impact applicants as they apply for residency programs.”

Zac Taylor, first place winner in the biomedical sciences category, concurred, and added, “Dr. Teitelbaum shared some great advice on how we can maximize our clinical education. It was great to interact with someone who has many years of clinical experience as both a physician and a researcher, since that is what I would like to be as well.” Taylor’s presentation was titled, “Gene Regulatory Networks Can Accurately Identify Important Genes in Zebrafish Cardiogenesis as Demonstrated by Camta1 Knockout.”

The other Medical Student Research Day awardees were Victoria-Lynn Ramos in the population and public health category for the project “New Mexico and the Impact of the Affordable Care Act” and Katherine Kleinberg in the medical education research category for “Efficacy of Collaborative Testing for Long-Term Retention of Medical Knowledge.”

A big thank you goes out to Dr. Ontiveros and the other organizers of the event: Alex Arana, MBA; Debra E. Bramblett, Ph.D.; Scott Cyrus, DO; Dominique Giordano, OMS-I; Samuel Kadavakollu, Ph.D.; Mahrin Rahman, OMS-II; and Tyler Tumey, OMS-I.