January 25, 2024

Wayne State University graduate students show off research at School of Medicine’s 27th annual presentation day

From left, Kailee Hartway, with colleague Jenna Thibodeau, won first place for her poster presentation at the annual event.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s annual Chuan-Pu Lee, Ph.D., Endowed Graduate Student Research Presentation Day for master’s and doctoral degree candidates was held Jan. 22 in Scott Hall’s cafeteria and the Margherio Family Conference Center.

Now in its 27th year, the student-organized event showcases the diverse biomedical research of graduate students at the School of Medicine and other WSU departments, including Physics and Astronomy, Public Health, Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering.

“The Graduate Student Research Presentation Day aims to highlight the diverse spectrum of research from the various STEM fields at Wayne State and promote collaboration between researchers,” said Rima Rana, an organizing committee co-chair and a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Pharmacology.

The event provides a platform for graduate students to present their work to WSU research faculty and students, and encourages interdepartmental collaboration.

Samantha Heldman placed third for her research poster. 

This year, students presented 15 10-minute oral talks and 51 poster presentations.

“Participating and showcasing one’s research helps students increase the visibility of their work in the research community and get feedback that may be helpful for their research,” Rana added. “Getting a chance to meet with other graduate students and know about their research work is another plus point of participating.”

The research day is supported by a gift from Dr. Lee, who died in 2016. The endowed funds provide awards and prizes. Dr. Lee retired in 2011 after 36 years on the School of Medicine faculty. She was a strong advocate for WSU graduate students, offering pre- and post-doctoral travel awards to help offset the cost of national and international conferences.

The 2024 organizing committee included Rima Rana, Margaret Sena Akpo, Pelumi Oladipo and Sonia Khalid. Forty-four faculty judged the student presentations. 

Graduate student Michael Flynn discusses his research with a presentation day attendee.

Sponsors included the Cancer Biology Graduate Program; Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics; the departments of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences; Pharmacology; Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences; Physiology; the Office of Medical Alumni Affairs; and the Office of the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Programs. The organizing committee also shared special thanks to the 44 faculty members who volunteered their time and experience as judges, student presenters and the School of Medicine’s Office of Graduate Scholars’ Deanna Dona, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs Daniel Walz, Ph.D., Vice Dean of Research Linda Hazlett, Ph.D., and all departmental chairs.

The event included a keynote address from Gil Mor, M.D., Ph.D., the John M. Malone Jr. M.D., endowed chair of Women’s Health Research and scientific director of the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development at Wayne State University. He is professor and vice chair of Research for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. His research examines topics related to the immunology of pregnancy and the role of inflammation in cancer formation and progression.

Dr. Mor has been funded by grants from the National Institute of Child Health Development, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, as well as by several pharmaceutical companies, and is widely published in the areas of immunology and reproduction, with more than 340 publications, and is the editor of five books on immunology of pregnancy and apoptosis and cancer.

An awards ceremony followed his presentation. The student winners were:

Best Oral Presentation –

First place: Alixandria T. Mascarin, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, for “Recent Cocaine-use Pattern and Problem Severity Differ by Corticotropin-releasing Hormone Receptor 1 (CRHR1) Genotype,”

Second place: Michael Muczynski, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology, for “Biochemical and Structural Characterization of Second-generation Inhibitors Targeting the SARSCoV-2 3CL Protease.”

Best Poster Presentation –

First place: Kailee Hartway, Department of Pathology, for “Interrogating the Phenotype of γδ T Cells in Pancreatic Cancer Liver Metastasis.”

Second place: Samantha Heldman, Department of Pharmacology, for “Early Developmental Exposure to Liquid Crystal Monomer Mixtures Impacts Zebrafish Behavior, Cellular Respiration and Adiposity.”

Honorable mention –

Isabella Cubeilleho

Sanjeev Ganesh

Margaret Sena Akpo

Neha Rajput

Jugmohit Toor

Rayane Dennaoui

Michael Flynn

Rima Rana

Mizumi Setia

Shreya Nirmalan

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