Student research celebrated at Health Sciences Research Day

2023 Health Sciences Research Day (HSRD), held Nov. 10, 2023

MU School of Medicine students presented roughly 250 research projects at the annual 2023 Health Sciences Research Day (HSRD), held Nov. 10, 2023, and featured the work of undergraduates, medical and nursing students, PhD students and postdoctoral trainees.

The research posters covered a variety of topics within the health care field, including psychology, immunology, infectious diseases, gynecology, oncology, neurology and more. Students discussed their work with interested passersby at the day-long event, with their work evaluated by 82 judges.

Ali Khademhosseini, PhD was this year’s keynote speaker. He is the CEO for the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation and the CEO and founder of Omeat, a company exploring how to grow edible meat from cells. Richard Barohn, MD, Hugh E. Sarah D. Stephenson dean of the School of Medicine and executive vice chancellor of Health Affairs and Bettina Mittendorfer, PhD, senior associate dean for research, gave opening remarks.

“Every year we’re proud to showcase the talent of our researchers, our researchers in training and our faculty researchers. I love to see students going through the discovery process,” Barohn said. “We are all gathered here with the same goal in mind, and that’s to impart expertise, experience and enthusiasm about research.”

Traditionally, the Dorsett L. Spurgeon, MD, Distinguished Medical Research Award is presented during HSRD to an MU School of Medicine researcher for outstanding accomplishments early in their career. This year’s recipient was Jussuf Thomas Kaifi, MD, PhD for his research in identifying cellular targets in lung cancer. He is the section chief of thoracic surgery and an assistant professor of surgery.

“This is a recognition that we do something that’s meaningful,” Kaifi said. “It’s not recognizing just me, either. There’s a long list of contributors and mentors on our multidisciplinary team.”

This year, Donald Burke-Agüero, PhD, received the Excellence in Mentoring Research Award. He is a professor in molecular microbiology and immunology at the School of Medicine and a biochemistry professor in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Three health sciences students received the Dean’s Award of their respective schools for their research abstracts.

  • Sinclair School of Nursing, Dean’s Award: Claire Lynn, undergraduate senior, was recognized for her research on “Social and Demographic Predictors of Hepatitis A and HPV Vaccination Among U.S. Immigrants.” Lynn’s mentor was assistant teaching professor Olumayowa Odemuyiwa, PhD, BSN.
  • School of Medicine, Dean’s Award: Monu Monu, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, won for his research on “Metabolic Profiling of Aqueous Humor from Glaucoma Patients Identifies Metabolites with Anti-neuroinflammatory/Neuroprotective Properties.” His mentor was Pawan Singh, PhD and was a co-author, along with Sandra Johnson, MD.
  • College of Health Sciences, Dean’s Award: Ugonna Kanu, a graduate student was recognized for her research, “Free Driving Lessons to Reduce Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA) – The Tenth Leading Cause of Death in Missouri.” Her mentor was Lynelle Phillips, MPH, professor in the Department of Public Health.

The School of Medicine Research Council highlighted three projects as honorable mentions for the Dean’s Award.

  • Hossein Hosseinirad, “The Effect of MIG-6 Ablation on Endometriosis-Related Infertility in a Mouse Model.” Hosseinirad’s mentor was Jae-Wook Jeong, PhD.
  • Olamide Olaoba, “Western Diet Promotes Intratumor Bacteria Colonization and Advances Pancreatic Cancer Development.” Olaoba’s mentor was Guangfu Li, PhD.
  • Mebrahtu Tedla, “Modulation of Alloreactive Responses by Controlled Dual Delivery of Fas and IL-2R Agonists Using a Coacervates Platform.” Tedla’s mentors were Esma Yolcu, PhD and Haval Shirwan, PhD.

The students’ basic science and clinical research projects were judged in two sections: Category I for undergraduate students, medical students, Conley Scholars and Summer Research Fellowship participants, and Category II for graduate students, resident physicians and postdoctoral researchers and fellows.

View the Photo Gallery

Category I, Clinical

For the first time in history, there was a three-way tie for first place.

First Place

  • Laith Almashharawi, a medical student and mentored by Akshaya Vachharajani, MD, for “Social Determinants of Health in Audiology Screen Compliance.”
  • Samuel Hawkins, a medical student and mentored by Melanie Boeyer, PhD, for “Anterior Vertebral Body Tethering: A Single Center Cohort Study with 5+ Years of Follow-up.”
  • Emily Lager, a medical student and mentored by Albert Hsu, MD, for “Knowledge Gaps in Fertility at the University of Missouri – Columbia.”

Honorable mentions

  • Karolina Pogorzelski, medical student and mentored by Anne-Taylor Beck, for “A Rare Presentation of Nodulary Primary Localized Cutaneous Amyloidosis Involving the Oral Commissure.”
  • Kendall Boone, an undergraduate and mentored by Elizabeth Parks, PhD, for “The Effect of Lifestyle Factors on Sarcopenia Markers in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.”

Category I, Basic

  • Third Place: Evan Reeves, a medical student and mentored by Daniel London, MD, for “Adjunctive Dorsal Spanning Plate Fixation in the Stabilization of Perilunate Dislocations.”
  • Second Place: Bwaar Omer, a medical student and mentored by Zhenguo Liu, MD, PhD, for “Sex Difference in Aortic Contractility and Protein Expressions in Response to LPS Treatment.”
  • First Place: Varun Jeeran, a medical student and mentored by Hu Huang, PhD, for “The Role of IRF1 In Diabetic Retinopathy Pathogenesis Through Retinal Müller Cells.”

Category II, Clinical

  • Third Place: Jacob Kramer, a postdoctoral fellow and mentored by Aaron Stoker, PhD, for “Protein Biomarkers Can Distinguish Symptomatic from Asymptomatic Degenerative Lumbar Intervertebral Discs.”
  • Second Place: Suan Duan, a graduate student and mentored by Richelle Koopman, MD, MS, for “The Impact of an Enhanced Data Visualization Tool for Hypertension in the Electronic Health Record on Physician Judgments About Hypertension Control.”
  • First Place: Mubinah Khaleel, a postdoctoral fellow and mentored by Kylee Rucinski, PhD, MHA, for “Is Race Associated with Referral Disparities for Patients with Diabetic Foot Complications?”

Category II, Basic

  • Third Place: Alireza Mahjoubnia, a graduate student and mentored by Jian Lin, PhD, for “Digital Light 4D-Printing of Bioresorbable Shape Memory Elastomers for Personalized Biomedical Implantation
  • Second Place: Ayobami Dare, a postdoctoral fellow and mentored by Shiyou Chen, DVM, PhD, for “Surfactant Protein A Enhances Lipid Accumulation and Hepatic Fibrosis In Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.”
  • First Place: Hossein Hosseinirad, a postdoctoral fellow and mentored by Jae-Wook Jeong, PhD, on “The Effect of MIG-6 Ablation on Endometriosis-Related Infertility in a Mouse Model.”