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Carmen Javier and Wenjuan Zhang

Students Participate in NIH Programs

Two medicine students from Northeast Ohio Medical University participated in the 2018 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Medical Student Research Program in Diabetes.

Carmen Javier and Wenjuan Zhang, both second-year College of Medicine students, were selected for the program. Each completed a research project – Javier at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Zhang at Vanderbilt University. Both students presented their research posters at the culminating NIDDK Conference at Vanderbilt.

Lasting impact

Javier’s research poster was titled “Engaging Vulnerable Populations in Designing a Diabetes and Mental Health Mobile Intervention.” Reflecting on last summer’s experience, Javier commented, “For me, diabetes research is more than an interest, it is a top priority to my professional development as a future physician to be able to help my family and Latinx community achieve their healthiest potential. I had the opportunity to begin that journey at UCSF last summer, where I met many physicians engaged in community-based participatory research benefiting underserved populations. This experience taught me to appreciate the health of populations and consider pursuing a Master of Public Health degree or other NIDDK research programs later in my career.”

Physician scientist

The summer program had weekly seminars and lectures given by faculty from multiple disciplines who were engaged in various realms of research (i.e. basic science research, translational research and clinical research), said Zhang. He commented, “Overall, my summer experience helped bolster my interest in considering pursuing a career of a physician scientist, because it combines the practice of medicine (through clinical service) and research towards finding therapeutics that can benefit a wider patient population.”

Zhang’s summer research poster was “An Explanatory Model Tying Metabolic Markers, D2 Receptor Binding Potential, and Behavioral Performance in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.” He explained,  “The research group and I aimed to provide a mechanistic explanation for the behavioral changes seen in patients with Type 2 diabetes. The research group had collected MRI, PET scan, metabolic and behavioral data; and I helped analyze the results. My research experience gave me an appreciation for data science.”

NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which in turn is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Institute awards grants to support medical research at universities and other medical research institutions across the U.S. NEOMED’s Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Research Focus Area has many research projects funded by the NIH.