Soon-to-be doctors to showcase their original research on May 7

Students pursuing an M.D. at Yale School of Medicine must fulfill a graduation requirement that is rare at the nation’s medical schools: They must complete a dissertation based on original research that they have conducted with a full-time faculty mentor.

Classes are cancelled on Student Research Day so the whole School of Medicine community can attend.

The results of the investigations by members of this year’s graduating class will be showcased at the annual Student Research Day program on Tuesday, May 7 at The Anlyan Center (TAC), 300 Cedar St.

As in previous years, the program will include a poster session by the graduating students; oral scientific presentations by student prize-winners, chaired by Dr. Robert Alpern, medical school dean; and the annual Farr Lecture, to be delivered this year by Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, president of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Health Care in Boston.

Yale School of Medicine has required its graduates to complete a thesis based on their own research since 1839, and it is still one of the few medical schools in the country to do so.

The M.D. thesis is designed to develop critical judgment, habits of self-education, and application of the scientific method to medicine, says Dr. John N. Forrest Jr., professor of internal medicine and director of the Office of Student Research. The thesis also gives students the opportunity to work closely with faculty who are distinguished scientists, clinicians, and scholars, he notes.

Student Research Day is a major occasion at the School of Medicine. Afternoon classes are cancelled to allow community members to attend the program.

This year, there will be 86 taking part in the Scientific Poster Session, to be held noon-2 p.m. in the lobby of TAC.

Five students who have won prizes for their dissertations will present their research 2-4 p.m. in the TAC auditorium. This year’s speakers, their degree program, and their projects are:

Benjamin Himes, M.D. (biomedical engineering and cellular & molecular physiology): “siRNA Therapy in Glioblastoma Stem Cells:  Identification of Target Genes and Potential Therapeutic Implications.”

Sounok Sen, M.D. (internal medicine): “Understanding Costs, Value, and Patterns of Care of New Radiation Technologies Among Older Women With Breast Cancer.”

Kevin Koo, M.D. (pediatrics): “Male-Partner Participation in the Prevention of Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission in South Africa.”

Michael Peluso, M.D. (neurology): “Biological and Clinical Markers of Neuronal Injury in Primary and Chronic HIV-1 Infection.”

Rachel Rosenstein, M.D./Ph.D. (immunobiology): “Innate Immune Sensing of Allergens.”

Farr Lecture

This year’s Farr Lecture, “Reflections on Life in Biomedicine: Making Change,” will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the TAC auditorium.

Nabel, this year’s presenter, has been president of Brigham and Women’s Health Care (comprised of and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital) since 2010. Previously she served as the director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, where she oversaw an annual $3 billion research portfolio.

At the NHLBI, Nabel created the Red Dress Heart Truth campaign; launched the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases to combat global non-communicable diseases; and created scientific programs in basic, clinical and population-based research. She previously served as the institute’s scientific director of clinical research, and, prior to that, held the title of chief, division of cardiology, director, cardiovascular research center, and professor of internal medicine and physiology at the University of Michigan.

A board-certified cardiologist, Nabel is internationally recognized for her research in the molecular genetics of cardiovascular disease, and has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Council of the American Heart Association and the Amgen-Scientific Achievement Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  

An internationally recognized scholar and author of over 250 scientific publications, Nabel has received five honorary doctoral degrees. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences where she serves on its council. She also serves on the board of trustees of Research America, the Broad Institute of Harvard University and MIT, and the Health Care Cost Institute. She is also a member of the medical advisory board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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