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Students and Faculty Mentors Celebrated at Student Research Day

May 14, 2024
by Abigail Roth

On May 7, 2024, students and faculty mentors were celebrated at Yale School of Medicine’s (YSM) Student Research Day (SRD), an annual tradition at YSM since 1988. Five medical students (Chinye Ijile, Amanda Lieberman, Kingson Lin, Victoria Marks, and Jamieson O’Marr) made thesis presentations, and over 75 students, from across Yale’s health profession schools, displayed scientific posters and engaged with attendees during the poster session.

“Today we’re showcasing a diverse range of mentored research—spanning from fundamental basic science, to implementation science—performed by student investigators from across the health professions schools,” Associate Dean for Student Research Sarwat Chaudhry, MD, professor of medicine (general medicine), said in opening remarks. Associate Dean for Student Research Erica Herzog, MD, PhD, John Slade Ely Professor of Medicine (pulmonary) and professor of pathology, added, “We take immense pride in Yale’s deep-rooted tradition of embedding research within medical education. For our students, experience in scientific investigation isn't merely a stepping stone towards a successful residency match or a career in academic research; it's foundational training for their lifelong commitment to medicine.”

Farr Lecture

The Lee E. Farr MD Endowed Lectureship and the presentation of the Dr. John N. Forrest, Jr., Mentorship Award, which bookended the student thesis presentations, honored YSM faculty for their outstanding mentorship. In introducing Peter Aronson, MD, C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and professor of cellular and molecular physiology, as the Farr lecturer, Nancy J. Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean and C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine, explained that the lecture aims to stimulate thinking and to inspire students to strive to achieve more effective leadership and educational roles in society. Brown said that Aronson, who has been at YSM for 50 years since joining as a nephrology fellow in 1974, “epitomizes these qualities as a physician-scientist, educator, mentor, and colleague. As such, there is no one more fitting to speak at today’s event.”

As chief of the Section of Nephrology from 1987-2002, Brown said, Aronson nurtured the development of numerous physician-scientists, both as faculty and fellows, many of whom became recognized leaders—and many of whom remain at Yale and were present on SRD. “It goes without saying” Brown concluded, “that Dr. Aronson’s stewardship is one reason for the enduring strength of Yale’s 200-year tradition of medical student research,” noting he had been part of the tradition for one quarter of the 200 years. (In comments after Aronson spoke, Herzog noted several of his student evaluations simply said GOAT: “Greatest Of All Time.”)

Using his own experiences as examples in his lecture titled From Sugar to Salt to Stones: Serendipitous Journey as Mentee and Mentor, Aronson noted the importance of chance events and serendipitous research findings in determining the course of his academic development and research career. (This article describes his remarks in detail.) In closing, Aronson honored the late John N. Forrest, Jr., professor emeritus of medicine and the founding director of YSM’s Office of Student Research (OSR). Forrest, he said, “exemplified extraordinary commitment to the process of education and mentorship,” adding “we should all be inspired by his example of what is most gratifying in academic medicine.”

Dr. John N. Forrest, Jr., Mentorship Award

Chaudhry similarly honored John N. Forrest, Jr. in introducing the mentorship award established to recognize his legacy. “As many of you know, Dr. Forrest died earlier this year, and so this year’s Forrest Prize holds special meaning.” OSR “was his pride and joy,” Chaudhry said, adding that since starting their roles as associate deans of student research in 2020, “Dr. Herzog and I have continually been impressed by Dr. Forrest’s care and foresight in establishing the Office of Student Research. Dr. Forrest’s legacy lives on in the enduring strength of YSM’s medical student research program.”

Before Forrest’s son, John K. Forrest, MD, associate professor of medicine (cardiovascular medicine), announced the award recipient— Shelli Farhadian, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine (infectious diseases); assistant professor, epidemiology of microbial diseases —he shared, “My family and I are grateful to the numerous people who reached out after our father’s passing. Some of the most touching correspondence we received were from medical students, residents, and fellows whom he had mentored while at Yale. There is no greater evidence of the lasting impact that mentorship plays in the lives of young physicians that the words contained in those letters.”

Turning to the awardee, Forrest said, “Dr. Farhadian is an exemplary mentor,” and pointed to her role “in shaping the careers of her mentees, many of whom have garnered multiple awards and recognition, and published first author manuscripts under her tutelage.”

He then shared what a student wrote about Farhadian: “Dr. Farhadian is such a fantastic mentor and person. As my mentor she encouraged me to apply for grants and submit to conferences and journals and has always made herself available to answer any questions that I have. She also facilitates an environment in which her mentees feel comfortable coming to her with questions and offers help in connecting me with doctors in my fields of interest. Beyond my research with Dr. Farhadian, she has also proved to be an invaluable resource in terms of developing as a student and a future doctor. She is an inspiring woman in medicine, and I hope to become as caring and capable as a doctor and mentor as she models.”

Upon receiving the award, Farhadian said, “It means a great deal for me to receive this award in Dr. Forrest’s name. I was lucky to cross paths with Dr. Forrest when I was an intern, and I will always remember how kind he was to everyone in the hospital, no matter how small their role.” Farhadian added, “I feel very lucky to have had my own exceptional research mentors along the way, and I have tried to emulate them when mentoring my own trainees.”

Student Thesis Presentations

Chinye Ijile

Medicaid Coverage for Undocumented Children in Connecticut: A Political History

Faculty mentor: Naomi Rogers, PhD, professor in the history of medicine and of history; acting chair, Spring 2024, History of Medicine

Amanda Lieberman

Multilevel Barriers to Methadone for HIV Prevention Among People Who Inject Drugs in Kazakhstan

Faculty mentor: Frederick Altice, MD, MA, professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and of epidemiology (microbial diseases)

Kingson Lin, MD-PhD

Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Novel MGMT-Dependent, MMR-Independent Agents for the Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

Faculty mentors: Ranjit Bindra, MD, PhD, Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and professor of pathology; and Seth Herzon, PhD, Milton Harris ’29 Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry

Victoria Marks

Association between Medical Insurance, Access to Care, and Clinical Outcomes for Patients with Uveal Melanoma in the United States

Faculty mentor: Michael Leapman, MD, MHS, associate professor of urology; assistant professor, chronic disease epidemiology

Jamieson O’Marr

Ballistic and Explosive Orthopaedic Trauma Epidemiology and Outcomes in a Global Population

Faculty mentor: Brianna Fram, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics & rehabilitation

Submitted by Abigail Roth on May 10, 2024