USF Health hosts historic Research Day, showcasing the best in science

In what was likely the largest USF Health Research Day on record, nearly 360 presenters filled the Ballroom at the Marshall Student Center with their poster presentations, offering a wonderful overview of the range and quality of research taking place at USF Health.

A record crowd of presenters for USF Health Research Day.

This year’s event, held Feb. 24, featured the work of students, residents, fellows and post-doctoral researchers from across USF Health.

Now in its 27th year, USF Health Research Day has grown in participation and increased the size of the venue, making this year’s event an especially bittersweet moment for Phillip Marty, PhD, associate vice president, USF Health, who has been with USF since 1990 and led the coordination of USF Health Research Day for 15 years — he will be retiring later this year.

“I’m going to miss this, it’s always been fun to be a part of this,” Dr. Marty said. “I’d like to think Research Day has contributed a little bit to the growth of the research programs here, going from a university that was down the ranks a bit to a major research organization in the country.”

Dr. Phillip Marty

USF Health Research Day is a day-long event showcasing science within and across disciplines from across all USF Health colleges, schools and programs, as well as guest researchers from USF programs studying the science of health.

Setting up poster presentations.

This year the morning started with the keynote speaker: the Roy H. Behnke Distinguished Lectureship featured Jack A. Gilbert, PhD, professor of surgery in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago and Group Leader for Microbial Ecology at the Argonne National Laboratory. His lecture was titled “Invisible Influence: The Microbiome and Human Health.”

Dr. Gilbert works with experts in environmental sciences, chemical engineering, marine ecosystems, health and medicine, and other disciplines to try to understand how the complex population of bacteria and other microorganisms we share with the rest of the world, collectively known as the microbiome, shapes our environments and our health. Among the researchers his University of Chicago team collaborates with is USF Health nurse scientist Maureen Groer, PhD, who is studying pre-term babies and their microbiome, neurodevelopment and school readiness.

Keynote speaker Jack Gilbert, PhD, spoke about a hot topic — the microbiome and human health.

Science is still in the early stages of this revolutionary research, including working to unravel exactly how the immune system responds to microbial governance, and finding the proper balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria.  But, studies in mice have already shown that altering gut bacteria can change behavior, Dr. Gilbert said, and imbalances in gut bacteria have been found in many diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, , diabetes and obesity. Nearly 400 clinical trials now involve the human microbiome in some component, including studies of how microbes respond to drugs, lifestyle and other factors, he added.

“What are the good bacteria?  How much or how little is needed to have protective effect? How do we get them in the body and activate them to have a defined impact,” Dr. Gilbert said are just some of many questions to be answered. “There is good evidence that some probiotics work, but we don’t know why.”

The topic was chosen because the microbiome has such potential in interest and activities, Dr. Marty said.

“We thought this topic would appeal to just about any researcher,” he said. “If anyone is looking for a research career or a topic for research, that’s a hot area right now, and such an important area for the future, especially in regards to precision medicine as we look at how we can treat disease. We really have to find out what’s going on at that (microbial) level.”

Katherine Stanford, a PhD student in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, explains her work to Dr. Stephen Liggett, associate vice president for research at USF Health.

Attendees hustled from the lecture in the Marshall Center Oval Theatre into the Ballroom to begin reviewing the hundreds of posters tacked onto rows and rows of bulletin boards, including interdisciplinary projects marked with yellow ribbons.  Judges also made the rounds, evaluating each presentation and asking lead researchers questions about their work or to further explain their methods, results and conclusions. As always, for those who are new researchers, USF Health Research Day is a key event in acting as a practice run for future national research meetings.

Following lunch, the crowd returned to the Oval Theatre to hear from the select few who were invited to present their work orally. This year 11 students presented their work at the 8th Annual Joseph Krzanowski, PhD, USF Health Invited Oral Presentations Session. They were: Aurelie Joly-Amado, PhD; April L Darling; Samia VO Dutra; Mark Howell; Shannon Kelly; Fahad Mukhtar; Danny T Nguyen; Emily Palumbo; Prit K Patel, BS; Ellen J Schafer, PhD, MPH, MCHES; Sarah L Todd, MD; and Lan Xu.

At the conclusion of the talk, the much-anticipated awards were presented. Winners for the USF Health Research Day 2017 were:

Best MCOM Graduate Student Poster Presentations:
Doctoral Student Poster Presentation: Allergy and Immunology: Viviana Sampayo-Escobar
Doctoral Student Poster Presentation: Cancer Biology: Emily Palumbo
Doctoral Student Poster Presentation: Cardiovascular and Clinical Science Research: Jin Wei (Basic Science) and Roberto Aponte (Clinical Science)
Masters Student Poster Presentation: Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Disease: Geeta Iyer
Doctoral Student Poster Presentation: Molecular and Cellular Biology: Shpetim Karandrea

Best MCOM Medical Student Presentations:
Med I Student Poster Presentation: Elliot Neal
Med II Student Poster Presentation: Interdisciplinary Research: Nima Hosseinian
Med II Student Poster Presentation: Clinical Science Research: Danny Nguyen
Med II Student Poster Presentations: Education Research: Dana Ciullo
Med II Student Poster Presentation: Global Health Research:  Nupur Godbole
Med II Student Poster Presentation: Public Health Research: Nicole Le
Med II Student Poster Presentation: Case Studies and Chart Reviews: Annie Hendryx
Med II Student Poster Presentation: Chart Reviews: Gilbert Murimwa
Med II Student Poster Presentation: Chart Reviews: Sean Sileno
Med II Student Poster Presentation: Chart Reviews: Kyle Kilinski
Med II Poster Presentation: Chart Reviews: Yeshuwa Mayers
Med III Student Poster Presentation, Interdisciplinary Case Studies: Manjari Pedapudi
Med III Poster Presentation: Chart Reviews: LesleAnn Hayward
Med III Student Poster Presentation, Empirical Studies: Jourdan Cooney
Med IV Student Poster Presentation Case Studies: Mayssan Muftah
Med IV Poster Presentation: Chart Reviews: Samuel B. Reynolds
Med IV Poster Presentation: Chart Reviews: Jewel Brown

Best MCOM Medical Resident Poster Presentations:
MCOM Resident Poster Presentations: Case Studies: Emily McClung
MCOM Resident Poster Presentation: Case Studies: Norberto Mancera
MCOM Residents Presentation: Case Studies: Bhumika Patel
MCOM Fellow Poster Presentation: Chart Reviews: Matthew Perez

Best College of Nursing Poster Presentation:
CON Graduate Student Poster Presentation: Samia Dutra

Best College of Pharmacy Poster Presentations:
Postdoctoral Poster Presentation: Zainuddin Quadri
Postdoctoral Poster Presentation: Malathi Narayan

Best College of Public Health Poster Presentations:
Graduate Student: Yingwei Yang
Graduate Student: Caitlin Wolfe
Graduate Student: Korede Adegoke
Graduate Student: Stacey Griner
Graduate Student: Kyle Watterson
Graduate Student: Omotola O Balogun
Graduate Student: Abimbola Michael-Asalu

Best Undergraduate Student Poster Presentations:
Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases: Sanjay Mahendrasah
Neurosciences: Anisha Kesarwani
Neurosciences: Amirthaa Suntharalingam
Clinical Sciences: Alejandra Mallorga
Interdisciplinary Research: Achintya A. Patel
College of Pharmacy: Interdisciplinary and Public Health Research: Phillip Pham

Top Awards
USF Health Vice President’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Oral Presentation: Mark Howell
MCOM Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar Poster Presentation: Lisa Kirouac
MCOM Outstanding Fellow Trainee Poster Presentation: Chinedu Nwabuobi
MCOM Outstanding Resident Trainee Poster Presentation: Harrison Cobb
Outstanding Global Pediatric Behavioral Health Poster Presentation: Yingwei Yang
Outstanding Innovations in Medicine Poster Presentation: Muhammad Jaffer
Watson Clinic Award to a Fourth-Year Medical Student: Ali Antar
Dr. Christopher P. Phelps Memorial Fund Annual MCOM Neuroscience Graduate Student Travel Award: Jeremy Baker

Winner Mark Howell with Dr. Phillip Marty.

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Keynote speaker Dr. Jack Gilbert.

Story by Sarah A. Worth, USF Health Communications
Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications
Video by Vjollca Hysenlika, USF Health Communications
Social media by Emily Wingate, USF Health Communications