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UCSF Medical Students and Mentors Recognized for Innovation, Creativity, and Impact at the 2018 Inquiry Summer Explore Symposium

Dean's Prize Winners

Dean's Prize Winners

“I applaud the brilliance, curiosity, and innovation showcased here today by UCSF medical students who are tomorrow’s leaders in medicine and research,” said Alan Wu, PhD, UCSF’s Chief of Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology, and Professor of Laboratory Medicine.

Dr. Wu’s keynote address at the 2018 Inquiry Summer Explore Symposium held on December 10 was delivered to over 200 medical students, mentors, faculty and staff who attended from the UCSF School of Medicine. Sponsored by the School’s Inquiry Curriculum, the annual symposium celebrates the scholarly accomplishments of learners from UCSF’s School of Medicine. The symposium is one of the ‘Uniquely UCSF’ experiences where organizational support of the values of diversity, continual improvement and inquiry is prominently showcased.

The Inquiry Curriculum grew from the elective Areas of Concentration Program for medical students, which was founded in 2004 and transformed into Pathways to Discovery in 2009.  These programs recognized that advancing health worldwide required leadership, expertise, and vision beyond excellence in caring for individual patients.  The School of Medicine’s Bridges Curriculum builds on these precedents to create 21st Century training grounded in understanding health care systems, team-based care, and inquiry into the roots of health and the causes of disease.

Summer Explore is an optional period of scholarship between the first and second years of the Bridges Curriculum. During this eight-week period, students are encouraged to let their curiosity and sense of discovery take the lead, whether that be to explore internationally, engage locally, or connect with a UCSF mentor on research.

Following Dr. Wu’s presentation, Inquiry Curriculum Director Buck Strewler, MD, introduced Meyeon Park, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Inquiry Funding Office Co-Director, and Inquiry Faculty Co-Director for the new Designing and Conducting Research (DCR) course. Dr. Park presented awards to second-year students awarded with Dean’s Prizes for Outstanding Research and Scholarship.  

“Innovation, creativity, and curiosity are essential traits of the UCSF physician, and ones embodied by these talented physicians-in-training,” said Dr. Park. “The Summer Explore program celebrates the excitement of research and the importance of discovery in advancing patient care.”

Prestigious Dean’s Prizes are awarded twice annually to medical students who demonstrate outstanding scholarship and research during Summer Explore and Long-term research terms.  Finalists are selected based upon the submission of a one-page abstract, letter of nomination, and successful presentation to the faculty review committee.  Winners present at one of the two Inquiry Symposia general assemblies in December or May and receive their award from Dean Talmadge E. King Jr., MD, and the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. 

Dean’s Prize winners recognized at this year’s event were:

Aaron Gallagher*                                          Mentor: Ophir Klein, MD

“Intestinal Villus Cell Turnover as a Regulator of Stem Cell Maintenance and Epithelial Renewal”

Ryan Halvorson*                                           Mentor: Benjamin Ma, MD

“Development of an “Intelligent” Knee Brace for ACL Reconstructed Patients using 3D-Kinematics & Surface Electromyography”

Bernadette Lim*                                            Mentor: Monica Hahn, MD         

“Ang Kabataan ng Bayani (Youth Heroes): A Photovoice Study with Filipino Youth in Union City”

Amanda Reilly*                                              Mentor: Coleen Sabatini, MD

“Outcomes Following Surgical Release of Gluteal Fibrosis in Ugandan Children”

Keith Sakata*                                                 Mentor: Wendell Lim, MD

“Titrating Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Signaling and Proliferation with Synthetic Fibronectin Domains”

Joseph Garcia                                                 Mentor: Manish Aghi, MD

“Effects of mTORC2 Inhibition on Metabolic Reprogramming in Glioblastoma”

Deb Meisel                                                      Mentor: Elissa Epel, MD

“Disclosure of Telomere Length: The Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Revealing Cellular Age”

Noah Nichols                                                  Mentor: Joseph Costello, MD

“Pan-Cancer Analysis of GABP Regulation of TERT”

Dereck Paul                                                    Mentor: Margot Kushel, MD

“Racial Discrimination is a Pervasive and Overlooked Contributor to the Pathway to Homelessness: Results from the HOPE-HOME Study”

Marissa Savoie                                               Mentor: Alison Huang, MD

“Nocturia and Sleep Disruption in Women Enrolled in a Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of a Slow-Guided Respiration Program for Overactive Bladder”

Dr. Park also recognized outstanding mentorship associated with the Explore projects, and highlighted the winners of mentorship awards presented to the following faculty:   

David Castillo-Azofeifa, PhD           

Mentee: Aaron Gallagher

Monica Hahn, MD                                        
Mentee: Bernadette Lim

Lindsay Hampson, MD                                
Mentee: Michael Sadighian

Jennifer Kerns, MD                                      
Mentees: Blythe Butler, Colleen McGourty, Morgan Cheeks

Jinoos Yazdany, MD                                    
Mentees: Adrienne Strait, Francine Castillo

“These dedicated mentors have supported and enabled our students’ innovation, and provide opportunities to study intriguing questions while exploring a career as a physician-scientist,” said Dr. Park.

After presentation of the Dean’s Prizes and Mentor Awards, students from the classes of 2021 and 2022 viewed and evaluated 97 research posters summarizing the Bridges 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 cancer therapeutics and the provision of better care in communities worldwide.  

Dr. Strewler also recognized the invaluable support and work of the Inquiry Curriculum Leadership and the dedicated efforts of Inquiry staff Matt Trojnar, Christina Middleton, Avila Reed, Michelle Gonzales, and Susana Aranas. 

*These five students delivered short presentations of their work at the symposium.