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Research Day getting bigger and better


Kira Slepchenko talks to neuroscience professor Yang Li about her project,
investigating the effects of zinc on insulin metabolism, at the Sept. 17 research day event.

(ATHENS, Ohio—Oct. 31, 2014) The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s annual Research Day continued to grow in its 13th year, with 63 poster entries on display on the Irvine Hall bricks in Athens Sept. 17. That’s up from 48 posters at last year’s Research Day.

Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O., praised the event and its participants as evidence that the college is not only teaching the physicians of tomorrow, but also encouraging collaborative research that supports both its educational and primary care missions.

“As a medical school, we educate our students and discover new knowledge,” Johnson said. “It’s the pursuit of truth we’re looking for. We have incredible diversity of research going on, which makes for an incredible learning environment.”

Johnson took note of the event’s steady expansion, observing that Research Day “just grows more and more” with each passing year.

With the recent launch of the college’s new campus in Dublin, this year’s expansion included separate participation by students and faculty from the central Ohio site. According to Leah Sheridan, Ph.D., an associate lecturer in physiology at the Heritage College, Dublin, eight students and six faculty/staff members from that campus delivered oral presentations in Dublin, while eight students submitted posters, for a total of 22 Dublin presentations.

In addition to enhancing students’ learning experience, Johnson said, research like that done at the Heritage College gives osteopathic medical practice a solid scientific grounding. While D.O.s understand what works, he suggested, research helps confirm their best practices as evidence-based medicine. In the past, Johnson said, “we just haven’t had enough evidence,” but research like that showcased Sept. 17 helps change that, he added.

Research projects in the event come from teams including both students and faculty at the Heritage College. Daniel Tebeau, administrative associate in the Office of Research of Grants, reported that this year’s Athens campus entries included 18 presented by students who had conducted their research with the aid of faculty mentors.

These student-presented projects included 10 posters from 11 students in the Heritage College’s Research and Scholarly Advancement Fellowship (RSAF) program. RSAF is a summer research immersion program for medical students after their first year of education.

These 18 student projects were submitted the day before the Sept. 17 event, for critique by nine evaluators – three each for the categories of clinical research, basic science research and social/behavioral research – who offered feedback in the form of a score sheet with added comments. This evaluation process, according to Tebeau, serves as a learning experience for the student researchers, helping them to improve future research projects or to improve their Research Day projects for possible submission elsewhere. Research issues explored by presenters at Research Day 2014 covered a wide range of work in clinical medicine, biomedical and biological sciences, social medicine and other health-related fields.

Topics included:

  • why amateur athletes often don’t report concussion injuries;
  • whether imagining that you’re exercising may improve muscle strength;
  • whether abuse of opioid drugs affects the likelihood of certain types of injury and how long a patient needs to stay in the hospital;
  • how effective a free community lifestyle program is in improving health, compared to pay programs or those offered by an employer;
  • how race and culture influence outcomes in traumatic injury cases;
  • whether fear of falling may actually make middle-aged people more likely to fall, by reducing their range of movement;
  • how much the spread of Chagas disease in Central America can be slowed by designing homes to keep out the bugs that carry it;
  • whether dinosaurs used the same types of heat-exchange sites in their heads as their modern-day animal descendants; and
  • whether having had a parent with Type 2 diabetes affects perceptions about the disease among college students.

Research Day 2014 takes place at a time when the Heritage College is embarked on a major effort to further develop its primary care research agenda, and is beginning to attract more outside grant funding for research. Many of the Research Day projects benefited from funding either from inside the college or from outside sources including the National Institutes of Health.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016