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Medical student Elizabeth Killion presents her study on the use of gene therapies to treat and prevent corneal abnormalities during Health Sciences Research Day 2010. Her research was supported by MU's Department of Ophthalmology. A record number of students – more than 120 - displayed posters of their research findings for evaluation by faculty judges.


Record Number of Students Participate in Research Day


More than 120 budding biomedical scientists
present findings to faculty judges


From research on cancer to nutrition, students play an important role in the biomedical discoveries made each day across the University of Missouri campus. A record number of those students – more than 120 –displayed posters of their findings for evaluation by faculty judges Nov. 11 at the MU School of Medicine. The sea of posters, presentations and award ceremonies were all part of 2010 Health Sciences Research Day.

Held annually since the 1980s, the event provides a forum for MU medical, nursing and health professions students to showcase their research. Studies feature a wide range of health topics, including heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, infectious diseases and quality improvement projects.

"This event puts MU's best and brightest students on stage," said Jamal Ibdah, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for research at the medical school and director of MU's Institute for Clinical and Translational Science. "We take great pride in our students' growing interest in health sciences research, which might ultimately develop into new treatments and better lives for patients."

The day also included two distinguished visiting presenters. The keynote address was delivered by William Carroll, MD, director of the New York University Cancer Institute and Julie and Edward J. Minskoff Professor of Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine. A National Institutes of Health presentation was delivered by Neeraj Agarwal, PhD, director of the Glaucoma and Optic Neuropathies Program with the NIH National Eye Institute.

The Dorsett L. Spurgeon, MD, Distinguished Medical Research Award was also presented during Health Sciences Research Day. The annual award recognizes medical school faculty scientists early in their careers. This year's recipient was Richelle Koopman, MD, assistant professor of family and community medicine. She received a $5,000 cash award and delivered a presentation during an award ceremony in Bryant Auditorium. Immediately following her address, students and faculty mentors received awards for their poster presentations.

Since coming to MU in 2007, Koopman has focused her research on the influence of electronic health records and personal health records on patient health and medical care. In her current research, Koopman is developing a scale that will measure patients' readiness to use Internet-based health resources. She has completed a pilot study that examined the use of Internet health resources among patients with diabetes who had varying levels of health literacy.

Three students also were recognized with Dean's Awards for Outstanding Student Research:

  • Douglas Overbey, a third-year medical student who studied the relationship between outcomes for patients who received coronary artery bypass grafting and the period when new medical school graduates begin training. Overbey performed his research under the direction of Raja Gopaldas, MD, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery in the MU School of Medicine.

  • Aaron Witte, a graduate student in physical therapy who studied the relationship between muscle force and pain. Witte performed his research under the guidance of Erin Dannecker, PhD, associate professor and director of scholarly activity in the MU School of Health Professions.

  • Kathleen Ellis, a doctoral student and nursing instructor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, who studied the health care experiences of low-income, rural pregnant women in Missouri. Ellis performed her research under the guidance of Tina Bloom, PhD, assistant professor in the nursing school.


Health Sciences Research Day is sponsored by the MU School of Medicine, MU Sinclair School of Nursing, MU School of Health Professions, MU Institute for Clinical and Translational Science and Truman Veterans Hospital.


Research Day Award Recipients


Category I Clinical (medical and nursing students, Conley Scholars and undergraduates)

  • 1st place- Nicole Shen, M2, sponsored by Paul Dale, MD, Department of Surgery
  • 2nd place- Brian Hilliard, M2, sponsored by Karen Edison, MD, and Stanton Hudson, Center for Health Policy
  • 3rd place- Kathryn Watson, M2, sponsored by Arshad Muzaffar, MD, Department of Surgery


Category I Basic

  • 1st place- Kelly Bowers, undergraduate student, sponsored by Carol Ward, PhD, Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences
  • 2nd place- Arwa Mohammad, undergraduate student, sponsored by Grace Sun, PhD, Department of Biochemistry
  • 3rd place- Jordan Austin, undergraduate student, sponsored by Kristina Aldridge, PhD, Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences


Category II Clinical (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, residents)

  • 1st place- Lauro Vianna, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, sponsored by Paul Fadel, PhD, Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center
  • 2nd place- Mohammad Bahador, MD, radiology resident, sponsored by Michael Richards, MD, Department of Radiology, Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center
  • 3rd place- Brittany Hanson, masters student, sponsored by Guy McCormack, PhD, Department of Occupational Therapy


Category II Basic

  • 1st place- Jason Cascio, graduate student, sponsored by Habib Zaghouani, PhD, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • 2nd place- Chady Hakim, graduate student, sponsored by Dongsheng Duan, PhD, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • 3rd place- Ajay Sharma, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, sponsored by Rajiv Mohan, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology

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