Having authored 18 peer-reviewed publications and having mentored as many as 15 junior medical students at a time, Matthew McIntyre, School of Medicine Class of 2020, is poised to become a rising star in the field of neurosurgical research.
School of Medicine Class of 2020
Inside the bustling hallways of New York Medical College (NYMC), you may find Matthew McIntyre helping a junior medical student to design a study or to review their data set. At first glance, it’s an ordinary tableau that can be found in almost any lab at a major health sciences college. However, upon closer inspection, what makes this scene extraordinary is that Mr. McIntyre is still just a 4th year medical student himself.
The team Mr. McIntyre is currently mentoring is looking at frailty—a state of reduced physiologic reserve—as a measure to predict outcomes in neurosurgical patients.
Though age and frailty are highly correlated, Mr. McIntyre explains that different studies have shown frailty to be independent of age. As a result, current prediction models are not comprehensive enough to give neurosurgeons a definite understanding of a patient’s anticipated outcome, but it is Mr. McIntyre’s goal to change that.
“Looking at the impact of frailty is important for neurosurgeons when discussing expected outcomes with patients and their families,” he says. “If a surgeon tells a family that their loved one is either a good or a poor candidate for a procedure—we want to be really confident. The problem is that right now, we have scoring systems that do not predict outcomes with 100% accuracy. We also want to be able to tell families what we can expect someone’s functional outcome, not just survival, will be.”
Mr. McIntyre began measuring frailty in neurosurgery patients while working with Christian A. Bowers, M.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery at Westchester Medical Center. Having been given full reign to design studies from inception, one such project, Increasing Frailty Predicts Worse Outcomes and Increased Complications After Angiogram-Negative Subarachnoid Hemorrhages, was accepted for publication in fall 2019 in World Neurosurgery, making it Mr. McIntyre’s sixth publication for which he was the first author. He is currently working on about 15 other projects under the direction of Dr. Bowers and is helping to supervise other medical students’ research, guiding them in designing their own studies and learning statistical analysis.
“Matt is an extraordinary medical student who is going to be a star in neurosurgery. He really has taken the frailty concept and has been phenomenally productive with such little assistance needed. He is at the level of an attending when it comes to his research capabilities. He runs his own statistical analyses and he understands statistical methodology at a very high-level. Having Matt as a mentee has led to him helping me much more than I could have ever helped him. I am proud of any small role I may have played and we as a medical school at NYMC, and specifically as the Department of Neurosurgery, are really honored to call him one of us. We cannot wait to watch his career as we know he is going to do amazing things in the future!” says Dr. Bowers.
Demonstrating his remarkable aptitude for research long before he was even an undergraduate, Mr. McIntyre participated in competitive research at Yorktown High School in Yorktown Heights, New York. With the encouragement of his grandfather, a famous clinical pathologist, Mr. McIntyre learned very early on to embrace the challenge of doing original research. Advancing through local, state and national science fairs, Mr. McIntyre made it all the way to the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, formerly the Intel Science Engineering Fair, twice and won the 2nd place award in Microbiology.
It also was during this time that Mr. McIntyre was first introduced to Dana G. Mordue, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at NYMC. Under Dr. Mordue’s mentorship and guidance, Mr. McIntyre became a grant-funded researcher at the age of 17 for their study of toxoplasmosis, a disease that results from infection with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, one of the world’s most common parasites.
“Matt has done a phenomenal job seeking out opportunities to develop a diverse and cutting edge biomedical research portfolio which includes being the principle investigator for an education grant he developed himself. I expect he will become an outstanding neurosurgeon and imagine we will be seeing exceptional things from him in the future,” says Dr. Mordue.
Though he has accomplished so much in such a short amount of time, Mr. McIntyre shares that his successes did not come without failures. The key is to remain resilient—and not be deterred even when you have to start all over again.
“To be successful in research you have to dig in and have a certain amount of grit and not be dissuaded by a disappointing result,” he says. “In research there are many times you get to the end and have to redo everything. For every published paper, there were probably three or more that went unpublished, so you have to have a mental toughness to stick it out.”