Skip Main Navigation | Skip to Content

Summer research mentors help mold
future physicians

Spotlight Item Photo
Click to open photo
Bookmark and Share

Every year, medical students get to apply for a stipend to conduct Ph.D.-level research as part of the College of Medicine’s Summer Research Fellowships. This year, 25 were selected to receive a $4,000 stipend.

The growing program pairs predominantly first-year med students with faculty mentors on a variety of clinical and biomedical research projects.

Before 2017, anywhere from eight to 16 students were awarded $2,500 stipends. In the last two years, a combined 53 students have each received $4,000 awards.

“Last year, Dean [John P.] Fogarty generously increased the stipend to be competitive with other summer research fellowships around the country and align with trends that show medical students are becoming more and more likely to pursue research experiences,” said Suzanne Baker, assistant dean for graduate programs and medical student research.

The Summer Research Fellowships have funded 214 student projects since 2005. While such projects can look good on med students’ residency applications and be relevant when students become practicing physicians, much of the appeal for students is the opportunity to partner with passionate faculty mentors.

“Getting to work with Dr. [Les] Beitsch is where most of my interest in pursuing this fellowship stemmed from,” said med student Ian Motie, Class of 2021. “He has been an outstanding professor and mentor throughout my first year of med school, so it really seemed like a no-brainer to jump at the opportunity to work with him on a project we’re both equally passionate about.”

Motie’s project aims to examine the efficacy of syringe and needle exchange program laws in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases among intravenous drug users.

Classmate Diana Benedetti also pursued a summer research fellowship as a way to continue working with her faculty mentor.

As an aspiring pediatrician, Benedetti shares Associate Professor Angelina Sutin’s research interest in childhood obesity.

“I started working with Dr. Sutin last year on a similar topic about childhood obesity and was fascinated by the large amount of research that contradicted past information about the management and maintenance of a child’s weight,” said Benedetti, who was a master’s student in the Bridge Program in 2016-17. “When I got the opportunity to continue working with her on this topic, I was more than elated.”

This summer, Benedetti is conducting a systematic review of literature about accurate parent perception of child weight to find whether it correlates with subsequent weight gain or weight loss across childhood.

“I was thrilled that Diana wanted to return to my lab for the Summer Research Fellowship,” said Sutin, who has mentored a number of Bridge students and summer research fellows. “It’s important for physicians to have knowledge of how the research process works and how to be good consumers of the published literature. The best way to build that knowledge is to actively engage with the process.”

Full-time College of Medicine faculty make up the majority of summer research mentors, but others are clerkship faculty or faculty from other colleges and institutions.

“We’re lucky to have a wide range of research occurring at the College of Medicine from faculty mentors across all departments who are willing to volunteer their time and guide students down the research pathway,” said Baker. “Participating in meaningful research helps our students learn new skills and refine their scientific and clinical interests, and it gives them a chance to consider integrating research into future practice.”

Ultimately, it’s all about the patient.

“My main goal as a physician is to improve the health outcomes of my patients, and I’ve found that research is an additional method of improving these outcomes,” said Motie.

The students’ research will be on display in October at a special Grand Rounds.

Look below for a full list of student researchers, projects and faculty mentors.

2018 FSU College of Medicine Summer Research Fellowship Projects

Diana Benedetti
“To what extent does the published literature support if a parent’s perception of their child’s weight is associated with healthier or excess weight gain across childhood?”
Mentor: Angelina Sutin

Alli Blumstein
“Evaluating sex-related differences in dermal wound healing in an aged mouse model using engineered FGF-1”
Mentor: Michael Blaber

Alan Chan
“Physician comfort in PrEP prescriptions”
Mentor: Jonathan Appelbaum

Andrew Currieo
“What are the primary barriers to compliance in attaining patient-reported outcome measurements in a community medical clinic?”
Mentor: Matthew C. Lee, Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic

Laura Davis
“Using error-related negativity to quantify changes in anxiety levels in children before and after attention bias modification”
Mentor: Greg Hajcak

Malcolm Dix
“Cardiovascular disease among individuals of black race”
Mentor: Kevin L. Thomas, Duke University Electrophysiology Clinic

Brett Eckert
“Determining practice changes for a nurse workforce in retirement communities”
Mentor: Lisa Granville

Alejandro Gonzalez
“In adults age 35-86, does caregiving affect serum C-reactive protein levels, prevalence of depression, and health-related quality of life?”
Mentor: George Rust

Linzy Gump
“Time series analysis on the development of Drosophila neurons expressing fruitless and Dpr/DIPs”
Mentor: Michelle Arbeitman

Hunter Hamilton
“The function of Rab7 on Epstein-Barr virus LMP1 exosomal trafficking and signal transduction”
Mentor: David Meckes

Elizabeth Hull
“Teen pregnancy prevention and empowerment program in pursuit of health equity”
Mentor: Joedrecka Brown Speights

Maheen Islam
“Personality change in dementia”
Mentor: Antonio Terracciano

Anisha Kesarwani
“Does the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug naproxen mitigate the depression-like phenotype caused by breast cancer chemotherapy in a mouse model?”
Mentor: Pradeep Bhide

Ashkita Madala
“How do state policies on substance abuse during pregnancy affect rates of substance use among pregnant women and short-term health outcomes in the mother and infant?”
Mentor: Samantha Goldfarb

Kelly Mamelson
“Does nighttime pre-sleep protein feeding significantly enhance body composition, muscle thickness and functional capacity to a similar extent as post-exercise protein group in comparison to the exercise-only group? Does the timing of protein intake have an impact on cognitive function during 12 weeks of resistance training in older adult males?”
Mentors: Michael Ormsbee and Daniel Van Durme

Jessica Marz
“Knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of hand washing among adults in a rural village of Los Cedros, Nicaragua”
Mentor: Daniel Van Durme

Gerald Megna
“Are we able to identify diffusible or exosomal factor/s present in the spent media used for culturing keloid fibroblast cells that has the ability to convert normal skin fibroblast cells into ‘keloid-like’ fibroblast cells?”
Mentor: Akash Gunjan

Ian Motie
“For states with syringe/needle exchange program laws, are there differences in rates of disease transmission compared to before laws were enacted, and other states without such laws?”
Mentor: Les Beitsch

Caitlyn Murdock
“Increasing HPV vaccination among college students by identifying barriers to uptake and completion of the vaccine”
Mentor: Mary Gerend

Bryan Pacheco
“The anti-hypoxic and neuroprotective effects of embryonic stem cells”
Mentor: Yi Ren

Shani Peter
“The effect of Argentine Tango on Parkinson’s disease”
Mentor: Charles Maitland

Gregory Rodriguez

“Evaluating body composition, strength and physical function of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) patients”
Mentor: Wayne Batchelor

Rachel Serio
“Investigating the infectivity of Zika virus through exosomes”
Mentor: James Olcese

Alexander VanFleet

“Ankle splinting as an intervention to improve vascular function in patients with peripheral artery disease”
Mentor: Judy Muller-Delp

Richard Wu
“Impact of vibration-induced intervention on improving arm swing and subsequent gait in patients with Parkinson’s disease”
Mentor: Charles Maitland