At this year’s Student Research Day, the 22nd Annual Scientific Poster Session featuring research by students in medicine and public health, 58 students presented their findings on topics ranging from the soon-to-be-personal (Depression and Resilience During the First Six Months of Internship) to the practical (Educational and Behavioral Interventions to Reduce Exposure to Isocyanates in Auto Body Shops) to the profound(Beyond Patient Satisfaction: Physician Ambivalence, Authenticity and The Challenges to Patient-Centered Medicine).
Some projects reflected the notion that the most common expression in science is not “Eureka!,” but “Huh?” As medical student Kiera S. Levine analyzed her findings—patients expressed satisfaction with physicians whose manner was cold and impersonal—she asked, “That’s interesting. What’s going on?” Her conclusion: “The idea of satisfaction is complicated and tremendously ambivalent. Looking for simple assessments doesn’t reflect the patient’s circumstances.”
Medical student Ayal Aizer—Radical Prostatectomy Versus Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy in the Management of Localized Prostate Adenocarcinoma—reviewed the records of about 800 patients treated for prostate cancer at Yale over a 10-year period to see whether they fared better with surgery or radiation therapy. For patients with a favorable prognosis, there was no difference in outcomes between patients who had surgery and those who had radiation. Patients with a poor prognosis tended to do better with the radiation therapy, as did patients with the most advanced cancers.
Allison Arwady, who graduated with a degree in medicine this year, studied an old disease that is on the rise again in New Haven and elsewhere. In her project, The Uses of Rickets: Race, Technology and the Politics of Preventive Medicine in The Early 20th Century, she found that in the century’s early decades, as higher rates of the disease were observed in people with darker skin, it was erroneously concluded that the disease must be the result of poor sanitation. A large-scale study in New Haven in the 1920s found that the disease, now known to be caused by a vitamin D deficiency, was widespread and afflicted people of all races and ethnic groups. Only then, Arwady said, did the public stop blaming the victims.
She believes there’s a lesson to be learned from this rush to judge and stereotype, as she sees that reaction reflected in the response to some public health issues we face today, such as HIV/AIDS.
Following the poster session, five students who won prizes for their research gave oral presentations. Lu Anne Dinglasan discussed “The role of matrix metalloproteinases in axon guidance and neurite outgrowth”; Ryan Kaple wrote his thesis on “The axial distribution of lesion-site atherosclerotic plaque components: An in vivo volumetric intravascular ultrasound radiofrequency analysis”; Jason Roh’s talk was “The chemokine MCP-1 is an essential mediator in tissue engineered blood vessel development”; Andrew Simpson researched “The utility of plain radiography in the evaluation of degenerative spine disease”; and Nandakumar Narayanan’s paper was titled “While they wait: Rodent frontal cortex and delayed-response performance.”
The day ended with the annual Farr Lecture, delivered this year by David G. Nathan, M.D., president emeritus of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His talk, “A voyage in clinical research,” focused on his pioneering investigations into blood disorders.