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Medical Education

UCSF medical students recognized for discovery and innovation at the Inquiry Summer Explore Symposium

December 13, 2017

“The nature of what we do as physicians is to make use of information, and critically think about research with a high level of inquiry. Matching to a residency program goes beyond Step 1 and students’ performance; research activities can play a role a role in matching to many specialties,” said Associate Dean for Students Lee Jones, MD.

Dr. Jones was the plenary speaker at the 2017 Inquiry Summer Explore Symposium held on December 11, which drew over 200 medical students, mentors, faculty and staff from the UCSF School of Medicine. Sponsored by the Inquiry Curriculum and RAPtr Program, the annual symposium celebrates the scholarly accomplishments of learners from UCSF’s School of Medicine.

Introduced by Chris Stewart, MD, Chair of the Pathways Program Board, and Director of the Global Health Pathway, Dean Talmadge King, MD, presented awards to second-year students awarded with Dean’s Prizes for Outstanding Research and Scholarship.  “The Explore program celebrates the excitement of research and the importance of discovery in advancing patient care. I encourage our students to keep pushing the boundaries of science for new knowledge and fresh ideas.”




The Dean’s Prize winners were:

Nathan Kim, who studied antiretroviral therapy use among HIV-positive people who inject drugs.  

Mentor: Willi McFarland, MD

Carolina Ornelas, who led a-follow-up study of the impact of fear of discovery on undocumented Latino immigrants’ presentations to the emergency department.

Mentor: Robert Rodriguez, MD




Lakshmi Subbaraj, who explored tumor metabolism and cognitive dysfunction in patients with brain tumors.

Mentor: James Rubenstein, MD

Andrew Wong, who developed a machine learning algorithm (using electronic health record data) to predict the risk of delirium in hospitalized patients.

Mentor: Dexter Hadley, MD

Kevin Yu, who research focused on the identification of cellular lineages in mouse cochlea (a portion of the inner ear). 

Mentor: Aaron Tward, MD

Dr. Stewart also recognized outstanding mentorship associated with the Explore projects, and highlighted the winners of mentorship awards presented to Laura Fejerman, PhD, Daniel Lim, MD, PhD, Scott Oakes, MD, Robert Rodriguez, MD, Michelle Tana, MD, and Katherine Van Loon, MD, MPH.

“Mentors foster our students’ innovation and shape and inform how they approach hypothesis-driven questions in the lab and clinic, providing opportunities to study intriguing questions while exploring a career as a physician-scientist,” said Dr. Stewart.

After presentation of the Dean’s Prizes and Mentor Awards, students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 viewed and evaluated 83 research posters summarizing the Bridges Class of 2020 students’ summer projects.  Their work represented the breadth and depth of scholarship available at UCSF, from research addressing healthcare disparities, to the latest advances in genomics and the exploration of more precise therapies for chronic, complex illnesses.   The symposium is one of the ‘Uniquely UCSF’ experiences where organizational support of the values of diversity, continual improvement and inquiry is prominently showcased.

“Best in show” winners recognized for their poster presentations were students Leena Suleiman, Zoya Qureshy, Andrew Wong, and Rasheed Alhadi.  Winners, nominees, and participants at the symposium had the opportunity to discuss research and interact with faculty, at the conclusion of the event.