Cleveland Clinic awards public health student's clinical research

University of South Florida College of Public Health student Jordan B. Markel, 22, was invited earlier this spring to travel to the Cleveland Clinic, where he presented his original research project “Antibiotic Prophylaxis for Complex Spinal Surgery: Impact of a Protocol Change at Children’s Hospital.” He was awarded third place and a $250 scholarship.

The presentation was a part of Cleveland Clinic’s 4th Annual Aspiring Physicians and Research Scientists Conference (APRSC) representing students from all over the United States. The three-day program seeks to increase participation in research and medicine by establishing a student-physician networking opportunity, as well as a forum for science and research discussion. The event was held in Cleveland March 23 to 25.

Markel was one of the 10 students chosen to showcase his research work in front of the Cleveland Clinic’s world-renowned staff. After months of preparing their research projects, the students had the opportunity to present their work, which was judged on the basis of content, production, display, and adherence to the guidelines. This year, four students, including Markel, were awarded scholarships to help further their educations and keep their research alive.

“It is a great experience, especially in terms of professional development,” said Markel, who had presented research projects as an undergraduate student at the last two APRSC conferences. “Everything done leading up to a study, including methodology, collecting data, and properly analyzing and interpreting of the results, is important. But equally important is translating the research findings. You have to be able to effectively communicate the information to the scientific community and the public.”

Markel is finishing up his master’s degree in public health at USF, with a focus on global health, as he applies for admission to medical school. He earned in his bachelor of science degree in biology from USF in May 2010, and completed a graduate certificate in clinical investigation from the USF College of Medicine.

Markel’s passion for patient-centered research began early in his college career. He was the first USF student to receive the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. As an undergraduate, he spent a summer in Thailand bridging a medical student exchange program between Thai universities and USF Health.

Another summer he earned a spot as a research intern at Harvard Medical School. Supported by an American Microbiology Society Fellowship, he collaborated with MDs and PhDs on research to develop novel techniques for preservation and long-term storage of red blood cells needed for transfusions. The work was recently published online in the journal PLoS One.

For his latest APRSC project comparing antimicrobial prophylactic drug regimens for complex pediatric spinal surgery, Markel worked with Dr. John Sinnott, associate dean of USF Medicine International and director of the USF Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine, and Sheryl Chewning, director of performance improvement at Shriners Hospital for Children.

“Although I am not a medical doctor yet, this research has allowed me to continue making contributions to life-saving medical care,” Markel said. “I have a passion to continue working at the interface of clinical practice and science.”

Markel will kick off this summer by moving Advocates for World Health, the non-profit organization he co-founded with other college students, into new office and warehouse space and leading a mission trip to Guatemala, where most of the medical supplies and equipment the organization collects are sent. He will then spend three months in Washington, D.C. completing a fellowship at the Food and Drug Administration’s Medical Device Office, Division of Epidemiology. He will analyze post-market surveillance data on ventilator systems and write a review on the current state of ventilator technology.