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Student Research “Blitz’’ at Ohio Physiological Society Meeting

You’ve heard of the 30-second elevator speech. How about 90 seconds to describe your scientific research?

A new generation of researchers learned a thing or two about how to capture an audience’s interest at ‘’blitz’’ (as in lightning-fast) presentations during the 32nd annual meeting of the Ohio Physiological Society, held at NEOMED on Oct. 27.  J. Gary Meszaros, Ph.D., associate professor of integrative medical sciences at NEOMED and the president of the professional organization, headed the event, which brought some two dozen undergraduate and graduate student researchers together with seasoned professionals.

Midway through the day-long meeting, the student researchers went forward to a lectern to take turns delivering their pitches, accompanied by PowerPoints. It’s not easy to boil their complex work down to its essence, but the skills practiced here will come in handy later on—not least of all, to craft grant proposals that lay readers can understand. Representing institutions across Ohio, as well as from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the students gamely distilled their research in such areas as how to reduce the narrowing of airways that contributes to asthma (Samrawit Ghebreigziabher, University of Akron, winner of a poster award); the potentially protective effect of Collagen VI on the heart (Nicholas Baker, Washington & Jefferson College, winner of a poster award); or the role of the hormone prolactin in breast cancer (Chinmay Bakshi, University of Cincinnati, winner of a travel award to attend an upcoming Experimental Biology meeting).

They finished their pitches with invitations to visit their poster presentation and talk in the adjacent room for the afternoon portion of the conference. Three students were selected to give longer poster presentations in the afternoon, in addition to the four selected for the morning session, who included Isha Mhatre, a graduate student mentored at NEOMED by Jason Richardson, Ph.D., director of the Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging research area.

Building a community of researchers

“It’s nice to have all the neighboring universities, and universities from all over the state, come together,’’ said Anurag Jamaiyar, later announced as the winner of an unrestricted travel award. Jamaiyar is pursuing a Ph.D. in the Biomedical Science (BMS) program at Kent State University and is a graduate assistant at NEOMED. He spoke in his blitz about his work studying the role of oxidative stress in metabolic syndrome, co-mentored by Liya Yin, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of integrative medical sciences at NEOMED, and William Chilian, Ph.D., director of the Heart and Blood Vessel Disease research area—one of five focus areas at the University.

After his blitz presentation, Jamaiyar said how much he appreciated the focused research environment of the conference, including the presentation on hematological (blood) cancer and cardiovascular disease by the keynote speaker, Kenneth Walsh, Ph.D., Aram V. Chobanian Distinguished Professor and director of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute of the Boston University School of Medicine.

Another appreciative participant was Nicholas Baker, an undergraduate student at Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. He said his ‘’first-ever’’ experience with research, under the mentorship of Dr. Meszaros during a summer research fellowship at NEOMED, had been overwhelmingly positive.

“I didn’t think I wanted to just work in a wet lab. Dr. Meszaros gave me a situation where I could get the opportunity to see my research play out,’’ he said. He was excited by the opportunity to see the big picture. Now, he’s getting that experience, working at NEOMED with Dr. Meszaros in a translational research lab that investigates cell and molecular mechanisms—research that will serve as the basis to test a pre-clinical therapy for treating myocardial infarction injury (heart attack).

Student Award Winners

Poster Awards:

Undergraduate students:

Aubrey Rose – The Ohio State University (Dr. Noah Weisleder – mentor)

Justin Dunham – University of Cincinnati (Dr. Bryan Mackenzie – mentor)

Samrawit Ghebreigziabher – The University of Akron (Dr. Sailaja Paruchuri – mentor)

Nicholas Baker – Washington & Jefferson College (Dr. J. Gary Meszaros – mentor)

Graduate Students:

Kyle Spainhower – Youngstown State University (Dr. Michael Butcher – mentor)

Kevin Budge – NEOMED (Dr. Fayez Safadi – mentor)

Minqi Huang – Marshall University (Dr. Zijian Xie and Dr. Sandrine Pierre– mentors)

Postdoctoral Fellows:

Lakshminarayan Teegala – The University of Akron (Dr. Sailaja Paruchuri – mentor)

Anantha Kanugula – NEOMED (Dr. Charles Thodeti – mentor)

 

Dr. Peter Lauf Travel Awards (to be used for an upcoming experimental biology meeting)

Loren Geiss – University of Dayton (Dr. Carissa Krane – mentor)

Darren Gordon – University of Toledo (Dr. Terry Hinds, mentor)

Chinmay Bakshi – University of Cincinnati (Dr. Nira Ben-Jonathan – mentor)

Abdul-Rizaq Hamoud – University of Toledo (Dr. Terry Hinds – mentor)

Emma Teal – University of Cincinnati (Dr. Yana Zavros – mentor)

NEOMED Travel Award (unrestricted)

Anurag Jamaiyar (Dr. Liya Yin and Dr. William Chilian – mentors)