News & Stories

Learning about Research: Student Work Highlighted at Online Symposium

Students may not realize it at first, but conceiving of a research project and collecting the data are just the beginning if you’re a research scientist.

How do you explain your findings – or your goals – to people who aren’t trained in your field? Whether that’s your colleagues, friends and family or potential funders, it’s a crucial skill and one that was on display at Northeast Ohio Medical University’s Student Research Symposium held via Zoom Friday, Nov. 20. Eighty-eight students were featured at the event – the first of its kind, shaped by COVID-19 conditions – co-presented by NEOMED’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Committee for Student Clinical Research.

Jessica Chang, a second-year College of Medicine student, showed just how much she’s already learned about breaking down complex concepts.

Seeing her title, “Potential Early Biomarkers for Cisplatin-Induced Oxotoxicity” might scare away a lay reader. But not so fast. Chang began her video by explaining, “Cisplatin is one of the most commonly used chemotherapy agents, and one of the main side effects is hearing loss.”

Hmm—interesting. I wonder if I know anyone who has taken that drug and not known that hearing loss was a possible side effect.

“However, the reported prevalence of cisplatin-induced hearing loss was highly variable, ranging from no hearing loss in some patients to complete hearing loss in others.”

I wonder why?

“If we were able to somehow detect the earliest changes in cisplatin-induced hearing damage, physicians may be able to use these early biomarkers to identify patients who may be susceptible to cisplatin-induced ototoxicity and help them avoid hearing loss in the future,” Chang concluded.

What a benefit that would be to cancer patients!

Chang and her classmates filmed a three-minute video about each of their research topics, which for the symposium were grouped into sessions under five categories: Mind and Brain; Clinical Investigations and Translational Models; Program Evaluation, Quality Improvement, and Education Research; Evolutionary Biology, Foundational Orthopedics, and Auditory Science; and Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease.

Setting the tone

In a plenary address, NEOMED President John T. Langell, M.D., Ph.D., spoke of his own research and how important research mentors had been to him as a student completing a rigorous eight-year combined M.D./Ph.D. program.

Then, three hours of presentations and conversations took off.

Each of the five sessions contained three breakout rooms, allowing audience members to move easily from presentation to presentation.

Every breakout room session began with the three-minute videos made by the researchers. After that, student moderators – Alessandro Brunetti, Meghana Chalasani, Jessica Chang, Manasa Melachuri, Kevin Mo, Jay Natarajan, Negin Orfanian Azimzadeh Khosravi, Thomas Scott, Koshala Selvakumar and Katherine Wu – posed their own thoughtful questions and skillfully directed questions from audience members to the presenters.

Steven Schmidt, Ph.D., vice president of research, congratulated the students on the high quality of their work. “I was very impressed with the professionalism of the students and the caliber of their research,” Dr. Schmidt said afterward.

He also noted the important contribution of the conference organization committee: Fady Abdlrasul, Pharm. D.; Julie Aultman, Ph.D.; Brian Butler, M.B.A., Christine Dengler-Crish, Ph.D.; Alexander Galazyuk, Ph.D; Stacey Gardner-Buckshaw, Ph.D., M.P.A.; Rebecca Hayes, M.P.A., C.R.A.; Gordon Hong (student) Nona Hose; Vahagn Ohanyan, M.D., Ph.D., and Harmony Stanger, M.B.A.