NEOMED students Clementina Aiyudu, Nathan Dean Anonuevo and Katherine Wu are among a select group to have had abstracts accepted to present at the international meeting of the Dysphagia Research Society being held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel March 15-17. Only 50 presentations will be given altogether at the meeting, which is usually attended by about 500 international researchers in the field of dysphagia, or swallowing problems.
Aiyudu and Anonuevo are second-year students in the College of Medicine, while Wu is a first-year student in the College.
The projects represent research done by the students in the lab of Rebecca German, Ph.D., professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, through the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) 2017 Summer Research Fellowship program. This mentored research program is offered each year to currently enrolled NEOMED students in the College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy.
The science of swallowing
Dysphagia is a swallowing problem that often afflicts elderly people with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. It also affects infants. With this condition, people often aspirate, inhaling bits of liquid or food into their airway. Choking or pneumonia may result. As dysphagia worsens, people have difficulty consuming enough nutrition, seriously compromising their health.
Under Dr. German’s mentorship, Aiyudu, Anonuevo and Wu studied the problem in infant pigs—work that Dr. German hopes will translate at later stages to new insights helping humans of any age.
Dr. German said, “Even if medical students don’t continue to do research, the experience that they get, working with me and going to this meeting, will inform the rest of their clinical careers. Advances in clinical treatment and procedures rests on the research we are all doing, even the more basic research. By learning how to do research, how to think about asking questions, getting data to answer those questions, interpreting the data and presenting it, they have a fuller understanding on which to base their clinical practice in the future.’’
At the meeting, the students will learn how their work fits into dysphagia research being conducted internationally, said Dr. German.
The students and their research topics
Each student will give an oral presentation. Their topics are as follows:
Clementina Aiyudu: “Coordination Between Respiration and Swallowing in Infant Pigs With and Without a Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Lesion”
Nathan Dean Anonuevo: “Changes in aspiration levels over development in infants with and without RLN lesions”
Katherine Wu: “Longitudinal effects of RLN lesion of rates of swallowing and respiration in infant pigs”
Watch this space
The ORSP 2018 Summer Research Fellowship program will be open for student applications by mid- late March. Students apply directly to the faculty member whose project they are interested in working on. The summer fellowships are treated like jobs, and students go through the regular HR employment/hiring process once selected. More details will follow on The Pulse and on the website.
Pictured in photo: Back row: Andrew Lammers (Cleveland State University professor), Francois Gould (research assistant professor), Rebecca German (professor), Nathan Dean Anonuevo. Front row: Clementina Aiyudu, Bethany Stricklen (lab technician), Laura Bond (lab technician), Katherine Wu