Daniella Patton used ultrasound to investigate improved drug delivery for cardiovascular patients for her summer research, while Olivia Noe developed a smartphone app to help adolescents battling chronic illness stay involved in their own health care.
These undergraduates were among more than 170 college and high school students from across the country who participated in the Capstone Poster Sessions held in the CARE/Crawley Atrium on July 31 and Aug. 1, 2014.
The sessions were sponsored by several programs at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (COM) and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) initiative, designed to provide rich research internship experiences for college students and high school seniors.
Participating programs included:
• COM Office of Graduate Education SURF
• CCHMC SURF
• Neuro SURF
• MSTP SURF
• ASPET SURF
• BRIMS Program
• ROSE Program
• McNair Scholars Program
• UC Honors Program
Patton, a rising senior at Xavier University, worked in the laboratory of Christy Holland, PhD, associate director of research for the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute, for a 10-week stretch as part of the SURF program.
"It has truly been a life-changing experience,” says Patton. "It’s given me a project where I can see this is a little piece of the big picture, but it can actually save people’s lives.
"Dr. Holland is amazing,” adds Patton, who is considering graduate school for biomedical engineering. "Just talking about graduate school with her and hearing her personal experience has been very helpful.”
Iain Cartwright, PhD, co-director of UC College of Medicine graduate programs, says the Capstone Poster Sessions and the accompanying summer research programs are an excellent way to let undergraduate and high school students know about UC biomedical programs and expose them to the research of talented faculty.
"There are a lot of students participating in these programs,” says Cartwright. "We don’t expect all who come here for summer research will apply to UC for graduate school or for medical school, but we do get a good number who will apply. It’s a really good investment for the College of Medicine to identify and try to recruit highly talented students.”
Winners in The Capstone Poster Sessions contest included:
• Nana Entsuah, a rising senior and health sciences major at UC and part of the McNair Scholars program, was the winner of the July 31 poster session. Her research advisor was Donita Bylski-Austrow, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Biomechanics Research Laboratory at Cincinnati Children’s.
• Kathleen Wray, a rising junior from the University of South Carolina majoring in pre-pharmacy, was one of two winners of the Aug. 1 poster session. Her research advisor was Scott Belcher, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics.
• Alexandra Hohlbein, a rising senior at Bowling Green State University majoring in biochemistry, was also a winner of the Aug. 1 poster session. Her summer research advisor was Chesney Castleberry, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UC and a Heart Failure, Transplant VAD, physician at Cincinnati Children’s.
Noe, a rising junior at Boston College, and Alex Jofriet, an incoming freshman at UC, say SURF provides a great opportunity to work with UC and Cincinnati Children’s faculty on scientific research projects.
This summer marked Noe’s second time in SURF—last year she worked on a project involving sleep medicine and adolescents, while this year she helped develop an app on smartphones for patients with chronic disease at Cincinnati Children’s.
"A lot of patients chronically ill get fed up and feel they aren’t an active part of their own treatment,” says Noe. "The app allows adolescents to use their phone to record their symptoms daily and to ask questions of physicians when the need arises.”
Doctors can look at a patient’s chart daily if they wish and note changes and communicate with the patient without having to wait for the next scheduled appointment, says Noe.
One question that is typically asked is, "How is your energy level today,” says Noe, noting that the app provides a good record of daily responses over time and can be useful in treating patients. Her mentor is Peter Margolis, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at UC and co-director of the Center for Health Care Quality at Cincinnati Children’s.
The app works well, according to Jofriet, who explained that he is a patient at Cincinnati Children’s and has tested the app for Noe and her mentor. Jofriet had his own research project on display in CARE/Crawley and hopes to enter medical school someday to become a pediatric gastroenterologist.