BCOM second year student Mario Soliman has received the National Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) Research Spotlight Award. This award is given out to only six osteopathic students nationally each year. Projects are judged on quality of research design, unique perspective/originality, impact on medical knowledge, impact on community, and critical analysis.

Soliman is currently working on his project, titled “Transcriptional Regulation of Cellular Proliferation in T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia,” at the hematology and oncology lab at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine. He is studying protein enzymes that regulate a tumor suppressor gene in patients with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). The protein enzymes dictate the function of leukemia tumor suppressors, and thus can be used as a targeted pharmaceutical therapy in patients with leukemia.

“I chose this specific research topic as it combined two areas that I’ve grown to love—cancer pathology and targeted therapeutics,” Soliman said. “Working as a researcher in this same lab throughout my undergraduate education gave me a unique perspective on the present research gaps in the cancer field. Conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Sinisa Dovat has taught me the underlying basic sciences and clinical work in cancer therapeutics while being able to recognize and critically problem solve challenges through the lens of research.”

Before coming to BCOM, Soliman earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and life sciences with distinction from Penn State. Between 2013 and 2015 he worked at numerous labs in Pennsylvania and served as a summer research intern at Harvard Medical School. During this time, he received nine research scholarships and awards. He credits his experiences growing up as minority in Egypt’s health and education systems with leading him to osteopathic medicine and the BCOM mission of serving the underserved. He is also currently pursuing a dual MBA program at Penn State, and he is fluent in English, Arabic, and French.

He said, “My future goals are to intertwine by medical, research, and business backgrounds as a physician scientist focusing in the development of targeted therapeutic tools for cancer patients as well as increasing quality care accessibility to underserved communities.”

Soliman’s work has already been published in numerous high impact journals and peer-reviewed publications. He has presented his research at several conferences and he is currently working on other cancer related research projects. His contributions have already led to the development of a novel drug that may soon be used in the treatment of leukemia patients.

To read more about Mario and the other 2019 recipients of the SOMA Research Spotlight Award, visit: studentdo.org/research/awards-in-research/