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Medical Sciences Recent Award Recipients

A few of our medical sciences students recently earned Nationally Competitive Awards. We wanted to not only congratulate them, but also share their journey. Below is a review and supplemental article for each of the recipients. Please join us in congratulating Mohamed, Rishi, and Erika!

Mohamed Elzarka - Congratulations to Mohamed on being named a Knight Hennessy Scholar. Mohamed is UC's first recipient, and the scholarship will support his studies at the Stanford University School of Medicine starting this fall. For more information on Mohamed's achievement, click HERE.


Rishi Mehta - Congratulations to Rishi Mehta on being named a Goldwater Scholar. As a second year medical sciences student, Rishi has worked in the laboratory of Laura Ramsey, UC assistant professor of pediatrics and research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Fore more information on Rishi's achievement, please click HERE.


Erika Nguyen - Congratulations to Erika, one of four UC students to win a Fulbright grant. Erika will be an English Teaching Assistant in Vietnam. For more information on Erika's achievement, click HERE.


Medical Sciences Virtual Graduation Ceremony

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of traditional graduation ceremonies for the University of Cincinnati this spring. In response, the Medical Sciences Baccalaureate Program created a unique way to celebrate the accomplishments of the Medical Sciences Class of 2020. On Friday, May 8, the faculty and staff of the program, along with the graduating seniors and their families and friends, joined Anil Menon, PhD, Associate Dean and Director of the Medical Sciences Baccalaureate Program for a virtual graduation ceremony live via Webex.

Philip Diller, MD, PhD, Senior Associate Dean, Medical Education for the College of Medicine gave the commencement address. University of Cincinnati President, Neville G. Pinto, PhD, appeared in a pre-recorded video congratulating the class. 53 students received the Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences degree.

The full ceremony can now be viewed on You Tube by clicking HERE.

WCPO-TV Channel 9 did a story on the ceremony. This can be viewed HERE.

Thank you to the faculty and staff of the Medical Sciences Baccalaureate Program for their support of these students through the years. Congratulations to the Medical Sciences Class of 2020!zoom-thumbnail

Rishi Mehta Named a 2020 Goldwater Scholar

Rishi Mehta, a sophomore student in UC's medical sciences baccalaureate program (MSBP) in the college of medicine has been named a 2020 Goldwater Scholar. The Goldwater Scholarship recognizes college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming this Nation’s next generation of research leaders in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. Rishi's research in gastrointestinal immunology in the laboratory of Marc Rothenberg, MD PhD, professor of pediatrics at UC College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children's Hospital, is aimed at translating basic science discoveries into personalized treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.

Lauren Styczynski's Research Receives "Student-Faculty Collaboration Award"

January 22, 2020: Lauren Styczynksi, a senior medical sciences student, has been working diligently on research to see if Vincristine, a common chemotherapy often used in treatment for leukemia, might prime and alter the pain perception if it's administered in adulthood. She collaborated with Dr. Mark Baccei. Their work produced a URC Grant and the Student-Faculty Collaboration Award through the University of Cincinnati Office of Research. To view their work, please visit this link. Congratulations Laura! Thank you for representing medical sciences so well!laurendaef

MSBP Professor Appointed Deputy Editor of Advances in Physiology Education

mackenzieJanuary 1, 2020: Bryan Mackenzie, PhD, associate professor of physiology at UC's college of medicine, has been appointed Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the journal Advances in Physiology Education. The journal, which is published by the American Physiological Society, promotes and disseminates educational scholarship in order to enhance teaching and learning of physiology and medical sciences. Advances publishes peer-reviewed descriptions of innovations that improve teaching in the classroom and laboratory, essays on education, and review articles based on our current understanding of physiological mechanisms.

"It's great honor for the medical sciences program that Dr Mackenzie has been elected to be the deputy editor for Advances in Physiology Education," said Anil Menon, PhD, director of UC's medical sciences program. "It's an honor not only for the program but for Dr Mackenzie who has been a leader in undergraduate education in physiology. Not only has he performed incredible research in his own laboratory with undergraduate students, but those undergraduate students have been inspired and gone on to do great things, including winners of national awards. I think this recognition is long overdue, and it is fully and richly deserved."

"Few things match the excitement and satisfaction of teaching and mentoring in science—sharing knowledge, expertise, and experience—to students eager to learn," said Mackenzie. "At Advances, our goals are to explore the content that we should be teaching our students in the biomedical sciences and to identify teaching methodologies that best deliver that content to our students across a broad range of learning styles and preferences, making sure that no-one is left behind. I am thrilled to take on this new role as deputy editor."

Dr Mackenzie serves as director of research experiences for the Medical Sciences Baccalaureate Program and directs MSBP research courses as well as Statistics and Experimental Design, and Interprofessional Education.

Journal Article Discusses the Benefits of Peer Teaching at the Undergraduate Level

December 19, 2019: A scholarly article published today in the journal Advances of Physiology Education provides new evidence that peer teaching at the undergraduate level raises student learning outcomes—and that's precisely the approach being taken in some of the more challenging courses within the Medical Sciences Baccalaureate Program (MSBP) at UC. The article discusses the role of undergradaute teaching assistants, referred to at UC as supplemental instruction leaders.

Supplemental Instruction (SI) engages students through weekly review sessions and office hours in "historically difficult courses". Several MSBP juniors and seniors currently serve as SI leaders in upper-level MSBP courses. Annually, six MSBP courses incorporate supplemental instruction, those are: MEDS3020 Introduction to Medical Biochemistry, MEDS3021 Fundamentals of Molecular Genetics, MEDS3023C Statistics & Experimental Design, MEDS3026 Human Physiology, MEDS4027 Principles of Biochemistry I, and MEDS4028 Principles of Biochemistry II.

The article by Douglas B Luckie and colleagues makes the point that undergraduate peer teachers "are perhaps uniquely qualified and positioned to be the optimal, the ideal, advocate to raise learning in their peers."

Ohio Physiological Society Annual Meeting

September 21, 2019: Students and faculty from UC's undergraduate medical sciences program took part today in the Ohio Physiological Society (OPS) annual meeting at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Founded in 1975, OPS is a regional chapter of the American Physiological Society (APS). The OPS meeting featured the APS Keynote Lecture, “Why do mice run better with SOCCs?” delivered by Robert T Dirksen, PhD (University of Rochester), over 80 poster presentations, and a series of platform presentations given by students and early-career scientists/faculty. OPS is an ideal regional forum for students and trainees to present their work in biomedical and translational science.

Two medical sciences majors were recognized for research excellence. Rishi Mehta was awarded the AD Instruments Travel Award of the Ohio Physiological Society. This award provides $750 so that Rishi (class of 2022) can attend Experimental Biology 2020 in San Diego, California, and present the research he has been conducting in the laboratory of Marc Rothenberg, MD, professor of pediatrics at UC College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Rishi presented his poster titled "Loss of peptidyl-arginine deiminase 1-mediated citrullination drives esophageal epithelial barrier impairment in allergic inflammation".

Vighnesh Ramesh (class of 2020) won an OPS research excellence award ($50) for his poster presentation "Inhibition of TRAF6 signaling as a therapeutic approach in acute myeloid leukemia (AML)" Ramesh has been conducting research in the laboratory of Daniel Starczynowski, PhD professor of pediatrics and of cancer biology at UC College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Nami Tajima, PhD, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) was elected President of OPS. CWRU will host the Ohio Physiological Society annual meeting in the fall of 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Medical Sciences Poster Fair Caps Year of Research and Health & Community Successes

April 26, 2019: The second annual Medical Sciences Poster Fair today showcased the biomedical research and health & community service endeavors of students in the baccalaureate program in medical sciences. Some 57 students from the freshman through senior classes presented posters at the event, held in the CARE/Crawley Atrium. Among them were 31 capstone presentations from the graduating Class of 2019.

An outstanding cadre of 60 judges—comprised of faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, community partners, and program professionals—evaluated the poster presentations. The MedSci program is especially grateful to the judges for sharing their time and expertise, and for providing valuable critical feedback. The judges noted that the presentations were broadly of the highest calibre and appreciated the hard work and intellectual contributions of our students.

First prizes, including an award certificate and $75 cash award, were given to the students judged top of the biomedical research and health & community posters. In each section, there were also three runners-up awards comprising an award certificate and $25 cash award. Congratulations!

Biomedical Research

First Prize
Nihar Rama
Runners-Up Prizes
Scottie Emmert
Rahul Sandella
Amy Tran

Health & Community

First Prize
Ellena Privitera
Runners-Up Prizes
Zohabe Bakali
Emily Kim
Anna Layman

The American Physiological Society (APS) sponsored an award for the best physiology presentation. The APS Local Undergraduate Research Award in Physiology for 2019 went to Farhan Ilyas (Class of 2020). Farhan's research, in the laboratory of Laura Conforti, PhD, professor of nephrology, explores the etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disorder. Farhan is studying how the functional properties of potassium channels contribute to T-cell hyperactivity in this chronic disease. The APS award comprised an award certificate, complimentary membership in APS for one year, and an APS T-shirt and lapel pin.

Two Medical Sciences Students Recipients of the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence

April 17, 2019: Medical Sciences seniors Scottie Emmert and Rahul Sandella have been named recipients of the 2019 Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence. Established in 2002, the medal is a prestigious honor awarded by the University President to exceptional graduating students who best exemplify scholarship, leadership, character, service and the ideals of the University of Cincinnati.

Emmert, a native of Cincinnati, and Sandella, from Mason, Ohio, will graduate Bachelor of Science this spring, having majored in medical sciences. You can read more about Scottie's story here. And read more of Rahul's story here.

Andrea Ori Awarded a 2019 Fulbright Study/Research Grant

April, 2019: Andrea Ori, a graduating senior in the Medical Sciences program, has been named a 2019 Fulbright Scholar in the study/research grant program for graduating seniors or recent graduates. Applicants for study/research awards design their own projects and will typically work with advisers at foreign universities or other institutes of higher education.

The study/research awards are available in approximately 140 countries. The grant supports the student's expenses such as travel, accommodation, and living expenses in the foreign country. Andrea will begin her research project in France in fall of 2019.

Nihar Rama Named a 2019 Barry Goldwater Scholar

April, 2019: Medical Sciences sophomore Nihar Rama has been named a 2019 Barry Goldwater Scholar. The award recognizes undergraduate sophomore or junior students majoring in the natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering and who show exceptional promise of becoming the nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields. Read More

Azucenas and Stone Awarded American Physiological Society Summer Research Fellowships

March 28, 2019: Medical sciences juniors Corbin Azucenas and Sydney Stone have each been awarded STRIDE summer research fellowships from the American Physiological Society.

The award includes a $4,500 summer stipend, a $500 contribution to the host laboratory for research costs, and travel expenses for the student to present their work at a national conference.

Corbin and Sydney are conducting research on iron transport and homeostasis in the laboratory of Bryan Mackenzie, PhD, associate professor of physiology and Medical Sciences Program director of research experiences. Sydney’s research project explores a potential mechanism of preventing iron overload. Corbin’s research focuses on the molecular physiology of ferroportin—a protein that is responsible for the export of iron from enterocytes and macrophages—and the role of extracellular calcium in activating ferroportin function in vitro and in vivo.

Scottie Emmert's Research Paper Describes a Novel Animal Model of Hydrocephalus

February 9, 2019: Medical Sciences senior Scottie Emmert has used a new genome-editing technology known as CRISPR to mutate in the rat a gene known as L1cam, creating a novel animal model of hydrocephalus, a severe and relatively common disorder in human infants. His first-author research article was published today in the Journal of Neurosurgery. Scottie has been working since his freshman year in the laboratory of June Goto, PhD, instructor of pediatric medicine, and Francesco Mangano, DO, professor of pediatrics, in the Division of Neurosurgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and UC College of Medicine. The novel animal model of hydrocephalus is expected to aid in the development of new surgical and medical treatment options that will improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

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Medical Sciences 
Baccalaureate Program

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PO Box 670552
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0552

Mail Location: 0552
Phone: 513-558-7650