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26th Annual Medical Student Research Forum Features Record Number of Participants

Students showcased more than 100 research findings virtually to faculty and their peers in the annual forum.

February 07, 2022
Fawaz Al-Mufti, M.D.

The forum gives students the opportunity to present their work in a professional setting, receive feedback from distinguished faculty members and explore research projects by their peers. NYMC faculty take on the role of judging the forum, research mentors serve as keynote speakers and students participate in and plan the forum. It takes the executive board a full year to plan the forum—coordinating 200+ people and countless moving parts.

“The MSRF serves to recognize NYMC student research conducted at our own facilities and across the United States,” says Sonali Dadoo, a member of the Medical Student Research Committee, who helped coordinate the event. “Each year, the executive board screens hundreds of student applications to present either poster or oral presentations at the MSRF. The forum requires collaboration and support from all facets of the NYMC community, further emphasizing the role community and teamwork play in research. It’s a role we take seriously and wear proudly.”

This year five students were chosen to give oral presentations of their research projects. Maya Pandit, SOM Class of 2023, shared her research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease’s impact on heart failure hospitalizations following an acute myocardial infarction. Charanpreet Sasan, SOM Class of 2024, reported on the computed topography perfusion results after an angiographic elimination of pipeline-treated middle cerebral artery bifurcation aneurysms. Shreya Nalubola, SOM Class of 2023, presented the results of her systemic review and meta-analysis on video versus direct laryngoscopy in novice incubators, while Jiani Liang, SOM Class of 2025, shared findings from her study of Acetylation as a novel post-translational modification of insulin transcription factor MafA. For the final oral presentation, Asim Ahmed, SOM Class of 2024, spoke on the results of his examination of the effect of a variety of sociodemographic variables on enrollment to a local Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) center.

This year’s keynote speaker was Fawaz Al-Mufti, M.D., associate professor of neurology, neurosurgery and radiology and assistant dean for graduate medical education research at NYMC and medical director of neurocritical care at Westchester Medical Center (WMC) who presented "The Gift of Adversity - Lessons Learned from the Phoenix (dactylifera).” During his address, Dr. Al-Mufti shared lessons he learned since graduating from medical school in Iraq 20 years ago, opening with a moving excerpt from the diary that he kept while serving on the war-torn Iraqi-Jordanian border in 2003 as part of Doctors Without Borders.

“The sky illuminated with blazes of red and white and the ground rocked with explosions. The bombing had started at dawn. Now, in late evening, on call at the Doctors Without Borders Medical Center in Baghdad. I felt exhausted, irritable and excited. Awake for 72 hours and once again, I am afraid I would not live to see my family tomorrow. My shift ended 48 hours ago, and I could have gone home, but there were only three of us there, a nurse, a pharmacist and myself amongst all the terrified injured people.”

Dr. Al-Mufti went on to describe how later that night a patient came in with what he recognized to likely be an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, but all the ventilators were in use and there was no way to scan his patient’s head or transport him amongst the turmoil. “That chaotic night was the first of too many endless and sleepless nights. You get to a point working in a war zone, during extended air raids, where you lose track of time. The weeks stop being about Friday, Saturday, Sunday. The days stop being about hours. The conventional sense of time is lost. You begin to measure the number of bombs that fell, the number of minutes that the terror lasted. The number of times you wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of gunfire and explosion.”

“This excerpt from my diary truly captures how in the midst of this tumultuous situation, seemingly endless horror, ultimately I was filled with a colossal level of frustration due to my inability to properly treat my patients,” said Dr. Al-Mufti, who at the time was just a year out of medical school, thrust into a situation where they were receiving 50 to 100 patients an hour and where months went by with him presumed missing or dead by his family since there was little or no communication from the war zone.  

Despite this, Dr. Al-Mufti described his appreciation for the important work Doctors Without Borders provided and meeting his wife in Iraq and their decision to move to United States in 2009. Told that though he had by then five years’ experience working in emergency medicine, he would have to repeat his training, he decided to instead pursue additional training in a different area of medicine–neurology. He then traced his career into neurocritical care in the United States and his recognition of the importance of engaging in research, encouraging the students use the adverse situations they might face as a time for growth.

“The question I want to pose to all to you to all of you is, can you turn your worst experiences into your greatest resources for personal growth?” said Dr. Al-Mufti. “Adversity can make you resilient or fragile. Adversity can build you up or tear you down, and you either give up or take control. Adversity is growth, in my mind, and how you will emerge after each cycle of growth is up to you. It all depends on the choices you make that follow the setbacks and unfortunate events that you face. Life is all about choices. Adversity is one of the most powerful forces in life. It can bring out the best in you or the worst, and ultimately, it's up to you. You are the architect of your destiny and life is short. It's important to know what matters to you and do more of that.”

The day concluded with the awards presentation to students for their outstanding work. The Arthur Karmen, M.D., Awards for Outstanding Scientific Research were presented to Ethan Krug, SOM Class of 2024 for "Dynamic Leukocyte Trafficking in Patients as Potential Biomarkers in Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers;”  to Rahim Hirani, SOM Class of 2025, for "Bcl2-Inhibitor Enhances Anti-Androgen Therapy Induced Regression of Castration Sensitive Prostate Cancer;” and to Matthew Conlon, SOM Class of 2024, for "Baseline Laboratory Values Predict Post-Operative Outcomes in Spinal Tumor Patients: An NSQIP Database Analysis.” The award was established in 2020 by Carol L. Karmen, M.D., clinical professor of medicine, in honor of her late father, who served as a mentor to countless students, residents, paramedical professionals and colleagues pursuing scientific and medical careers.

26th Annual Medical Student Research Forum Award Winners

Arthur Karmen, M.D., Awards

Ethan Krug, SOM Class of 2024
"Dynamic Leukocyte Trafficking in Patients as Potential Biomarkers in Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers"

Rahim Hirani, SOM Class of 2025
"Bcl2-inhibitor Enhances Anti-Androgen Therapy Induced Regression of Castration Sensitive Prostate Cancer"

Matthew Conlon, SOM Class of 2024
"Baseline Laboratory Values Predict Post-Operative Outcomes in Spinal Tumor Patients: An NSQIP Database Analysis”

Dean’s Award

Omar Tarawneh, SOM Class of 2024

"Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Facial Fractures Treatment, Diagnosis, and Patterns: A Nationwide Multicenter Analysis"

Oral Presentations

First Place

Jiani Liang, SOM Class of 2025
“Acetylation as a Novel Post-Translational Modification of Insulin Transcription Factor MafA”

Second Place

Shreya Nalubola, SOM Class of 2023
“Video vs Direct Laryngoscopy in Novice Intubators: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”

Poster Presentations - Clinical Science
First Place
Sara Islam, SOM Class of 2023
“Assessing the Safety and Efficacy of Early Mobilization in Suture Button Suspensionplasty in the Treatment of Thumb Carpometacarpal Joint Osteoarthritis”
Second Place
Michael Fortunato, SOM Class of 2024
“Effect of Behaviorally Designed Gamification with Social Incentives on Lifestyle Modification Among Adults with Uncontrolled Diabetes: The iDiabetes Trial”
Third Place
Brian Nan, SOM Class of 2024
"Optimizing Dual-Energy CT Contrast Timing and Virtual Monochromatic Energy to Maximize Brain Metastasis Conspicuity"
Rachel Thommen, SOM Class of 2024
"Frailty, not Increasing Age, is Associated with Worse Pituitary Adenoma Surgical Outcomes"
Poster Presentations - Basic Science
First Place
Brian Tung, SOM Class of 2022
“A20 Increases eNOS Transcription in a KLF2-Dependent Manner to Maintain Endothelial Cell Homeostasis”
Second Place
Jennifer Cillis, SOM Class of 2022
“Analysis of Novel Functional Markers for Hematopoietic Stem Cells”
Kanwardeep Singh, M.S. ’21
"The Late Sodium Current in Cardiomyocytes Modulates Diastolic Function in Experimental Animals"
Third Place
Michael Brown, SOM Class of 2024
“Effects of Adenosine on Lipid Accumulation in a Human Hepatoma Cell Culture Model When Challenged with Excess Fatty Acid” 
Special Distinction in Research
Andrew Miller, SOM Class of 2023
“Determining Health Information-Seeking Behavior of Shoulder Patients” 

Ankita Das, SOM Class of 2024
“Disparities in Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Provision and Outcomes for Cervical Stenosis”