UCSF Students, Residents Take Center Stage at Research Festival

CTSI Training Programs Support Advancing Careers in Clinical and Translational Science

Mary Crisham Janik, a student in the UCSF School of Medicine, stands with her mentor Yvonne Wu, MD MPH, professor of clinical medicine and a child neurologist and epidemiologist with expertise in newborn brain injury and cerebral palsy.

As part of the 2012 Inter-School Research and Scholarly Activity Festival, a four-day UCSF campus event highlighting clinical and translational research, students and residents involved in a comprehensive training and mentoring program were given the opportunity to showcase their research.

The annual Student Research Symposium included students from the UCSF schools of medicine, nursing, and pharmacy, as well as medical students from other universities, including the University of Michigan, Stanford, and the University of California, Irvine. Participants are funded through UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the UCSF School of Medicine Dean’s Office, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Now in its eleventh year, the student research program is already one of the largest of its kind in the nation, says Joel Palefsky, MD, director of CTSI’s Pre-doctoral Clinical and Translational Research (CTR) Fellowship Program, which initiated the research festival and organized the symposium.

“This program has great value in stimulating students to pursue careers in research and scholarly activities,” said Palefsky, who is also a professor of medicine at UCSF. “Our efforts are central to UCSF’s mission to be a preeminent health sciences innovator.”

Opened with remarks by Sam Hawgood, MB, BS, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine, the event highlighted 23 oral presentations from students pursuing year-long fellowships. As part of the CTR Fellowship Program, students receive support and training in clinical and translational research in short-term (two or three month) and intensive (one-year or two-year) fellowships. The program provides a stipend to fellows and includes courses, mentoring, bi-weekly work-in-progress reviews, and faculty-led seminars.

Fellowship Program Matches Students and Mentors

“An essential element of the fellowship program is the involvement of faculty mentors,” says Peter Chin-Hong, MD, MAS, co-director of the CTSI program, who noted that some of the mentors now involved were once students in the program.

Chin-Hong also noted that mentors and students are involved in far-reaching research, some of which involves global health and activities in developing countries.

“Now I know that I want to be a researcher.”
Alice Asher, a student at the UCSF School of Nursing

A highlight of the event was the naming of a Mentor of the Year, though this year two mentors were recognized for their efforts: Craig Cohen, MD, MPH, and Kimberly Page, PhD, MPH, both professors at the UCSF School of Medicine.

“This has been one of the best led and structured mentor programs I’ve participated in,” Page said when accepting the honor. “It’s been a real success, and has allowed me to be a better mentor.”

One of the student presenters was Melissa Wheeler, a student in UCSF’s School of Pharmacy who shared her work titled "CSF-1 Blockade Enhances Chemotherapy Response in a Murine Model of Mesothelioma."

“It’s been valuable to have more time to dedicate to a complete research process,” Wheeler said about the fellowship. “It’s also given me insight into pre-clinical studies so that I can more critically evaluate the [medical] literature.”

Alice Asher, a student in UCSF’s School of Nursing, agrees. “This has been a fantastic experience,” she said. “It’s a chance to step away from all of the distractions of school and immerse yourself in research. Now I know that I want to be a researcher,” she added enthusiastically.

CTSI Support for UCSF Residents

Day three of the four-day festival also included the CTSI Resident Clinical and Translational Research Symposium, which was also opened with remarks by Dean Hawgood.

Organized by CTSI’s Resident Research Training Program, the event included oral research presentations from five UCSF residents, as well as 37 selected poster presentations.

Highlighting the essential role mentors also play in the resident training program, Lee May Chen, MD, a professor in the School of Medicine, was recognized as Mentor of the Year.

CTSI is a member of the National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CSTA) network focusing on accelerating research to improve health. The Institute provides services, training, and funding for researchers at every stage, and promotes online collaboration and networking through UCSF Profiles.