Future physicians honored for top research at AMA symposium

Staff Writer
AMA Wire
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Eighteen young medical researchers stepped into the spotlight Saturday as winners of the 2015 AMA Research Symposium, one of the most competitive in the event’s 13-year history. Find out who won this distinguished award.

Competing among 368 of the nation’s brightest medical students, residents, fellows and international medical graduates (IMG) awaiting residency, the winners were selected based on the outstanding quality of their research.

Overall medical student winners are:

  • Maxine Warren, poster presentation
  • Kishore Jayakumar, podium presentation

Overall resident and fellow winners are:

  • Abhishek Maiti, MD, podium presentation
  • Vinita Alexander, MD, poster presentation
  • Almatmed Abdelsalam, MD, poster presentation

Overall IMG winners are:

  • Remi Okwechime, MD, poster presentation
  • Rupesh Natarajan, MD, podium presentation

The symposium, which took place Friday night as part of the 2015 AMA Interim Meeting in Atlanta, included hundreds of poster presentations and presentations as part of the oral competition. Participants submitted their work under several research categories, spanning more than a dozen specialties. View the abstracts (log in) of the research by this year’s participants.

How the symposium fosters competitive students, residents

Shauna Campbell, a fourth-year medical student at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, has held various positions on the AMA committees since she began medical school, but this year was the first time she submitted research to the symposium—and she’s certainly glad she did.

Campbell said discussing her research before a reputable panel of judges from around the country put her on the fast-track to building a strong CV.

“I’m in a specialty that is very research heavy,” she said. “I’m applying for radiation oncology, so research is one of the biggest factors for our applications, so this is a great event to [attend]. What’s even better than that is if you’re going into a field like pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine, [which] may not stress research as much, having this on your e-reservation or CV can really push your application to a whole new level.”

Unlike other research conferences, she also said the research symposium, which doesn’t require a fee from AMA members to participate, offers an affordable way for students to submit research and network with their peers in a collaborative setting.

“A lot of students go to various meetings … [that] often … are very costly,” Campbell said. “Registration for those meetings can between $200 and $400, but the great thing about the AMA meeting is that there is no registration fee. Plus everyone has the same interest here, [so] this is a great time to be amongst your peers to submit your research.” 

Others said the symposium offered a rare chance to receive helpful feedback and ideas from judges that can help bolster their research for future publishing. That’s one of the main aspects of the symposium, Emilie Prot, MD, a resident in preventive medicine at Austin State Department of Health said she appreciated.

“The judging process here was well-done,” Dr. Prot said. “I’ve done research competitions at other national meetings, but at the symposium, you’re actually able to talk to judges and ask personal questions—and the judges are really nice about offering feedback.”

Dr. Prot said judges encouraged symposium participants to think about how their research fits into “the bigger picture” of their respective field.

For instance, Dr. Prot said, “If you’re doing research in public health, judges may ask, ‘How are you going to be able to design an intervention afterward? Is your research simply about gathering data and then presenting it, or is there a way to go back to the area where you conducted your research [and explore a new way to apply it]?’”

Participants presented research covering a broad range of topics, such as the effects of education on childhood obesity, specialty choice among sexual and gender minorities, population health in India and more.

The benefits of being a symposium judge

The versatility of these research subjects is one of the many reasons Hala Bedri, MBBS, a surgical researcher at the University of Iowa Surgery Burn Treatment Center, said she enjoyed reviewing the presentations this year.

“There’s a lot of interesting research being done,” Dr. Bedri said. “The presenters are well-informed, and I felt all around it was a positive experience.”

Plus, she stumbled upon a surprising bonus: As a judge, Dr. Bedri said she gained a behind-the-scenes look into how a large, competitive symposium is conducted, which offers valuable information that will help inform her own research and future submissions to conferences or publications.

“In preparation for judging, I now know the criteria judges use to evaluate each presentation, which is quite different from when you’re just following the guidelines that a publication gives you,” she said. 

Dr. Bedri said she’d recommend physicians sign up to judge at the symposium because it offers a symbiotic exchange of ideas and information that can benefit medical researchers across the continuum of their careers.

“I don’t see this as judging,” she said. “I see this as giving feedback to your peers, and that’s what I would like people to give me when I’m presenting my work as well.”

The AMA Research Symposium is organized by the AMA Medical Student Section, the AMA Resident and Fellow Section and the AMA-IMG Section.

In addition to the overall awards, winners were selected for each category in the medical student and resident and fellow competitions:

Resident and fellow winners:

  • J. Saadi Imam, MD, clinical vignette
  • Rafael De Leon Borras, MD, clinical medicine
  • Eric Melancon, MD, improving health outcomes

Medical student winners:

  • Michael Lause, biochemistry/cell biology
  • Kathleen Wiest, clinical outcome/health care improvement
  • Eun Beattie, immunology/infectious disease/inflammation
  • Taylor Wallen, improving health outcomes
  • Tanya Khasnavis, neurobiology/neuroscience
  • Nicole Sitkin, public health and epidemiology
  • Fazilia Aseem, radiology/imaging
  • Jae Kim, surgery/biomedical

Planning to present or publish your own research? 

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The benefit outweighs the sacrifice! As a judge at this year's program, that occurs on Friday after almost 2 full days of AMA Councils and other meetings, the enthusiasm of the students and resident/fellows really "wakes you up". Their presentations are so well done, thoughtful and professional, that it makes us (their predecessors) confident about the future of medicine! <br/> <br/> Our future is definitely in good hands. Keep up the great work!
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Mar 22, 2017
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