MSSRP available projects - 2015

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MSSRP available projects - 2015

Available projects for 2015 are posted here as they are submitted by faculty and removed when they have matched with a student.  Please check back often.


Faculty:  Aditya Sharma, MBBS  (2 students requested)
Department:  Cardiovascular Medicine
Phone:  982-4661
Title:  Fibromuscular dysplasia international registry
Abstract:  In this study we will collect clinical characteristics, imaging findings and outcomes of patients with fibromuscular dysplasia through chart review.


Faculty:  Margaret Plews-Ogan, MD
Department:  Division of General, Geriatric, Palliative and Hospital Medicine
Phone:  924-1685
Title:  Phronesis project
Abstract:  We have two summer projects that can be done independently by 2 students, but we encourage the students to communicate with each other and collaborate when feasible. The Phronesis project is a new UVA medical student curriculum based in the framework of wisdom formation. For the first 2 years, student groups meet with a physician mentor in a weekly seminar focused on professional formation.  Each student is also assigned 2 patients -- an adult patient in the general medicine clinic and a complex care pediatric patient -- whom they follow for all four years.  The students become an essential part of the care team for their patients.  Project #1 will inform the potential redesign of UVA's 3rd year clerkship: conduct a literature review on longitudinal clerkship programs; interview key people in clerkship programs in North America that have developed innovative 3rd year clerkships; potentially visit some of these programs; identify successful elements; synthesize findings and present recommendations for a 3rd year clerkship redesign at UVA. The summer project should result in a publication.

The second project involves qualitatively capturing the experience of the first year Phronesis students. How did this learning opportunity change the way they see themselves as doctors and students? Did it change the way they see their patients? How did their relationships with their patients evolve over time, and what impact did these relationships have on their learning? How do the Phronesis students think the program could be improved? This student researcher will work with the project directors to develop the methodology, but we envision collecting the interview data in a way that reflects the spirit of the Phronesis project. The end result will be a journal publication, as well as a presentation to Phronesis faculty and other UVA SOM audiences.


Faculty:  Spencer B. Gay, MD
Department:  Radiology
Phone:  989-8800
Title:  Case-Based Medical Imaging Educational Website
Abstract:  This project involves manipulating PowerPoint files that from the basis of the images and questions. These files are then prepared for web distribution by converting them using Captivate. The website then calls each file and displays in a question and answer case-based format. The website should prove beneficial for students and residents in Radiology and Medical Imaging. Experience with some computer work is valuable, especially web development or Captivate.


Faculty:  Tracey L. Krupski, MD, MPH
Department:  Urology
Phone:  924-0042
Title:  Analyzing the Process of Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer: planning, surgery, discharge, and post-discharge
Abstract:  Patients undergoing radical cystectomy are at a high risk of complications including the risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots in the leg and lungs, and abscesses in the short term. In addition, bladder cancer is often a disease of the elderly who can be quite frail, live alone, and have multiple comorbidities such as smoking, obesity, and vascular disease.  The current delivery pathway addresses physical therapy, rehabilitation needs, and disposition only after hospital admission.  Pre-admission discharge planning, including a plan for post-discharge communication, could greatly enhance patient safety in care transitions.  In order to understand the role of pre-admission discharge planning for radical cystectomy patients, we aim to understand the current state of the system.  Project activities will include interviewing problem stakeholders (including patients, social workers, referring primary care physicians, home health workers, nurses, and surgeons), collecting data from past cases (e.g., number and type pre-surgery visits, time for each part of the process, discharge location, complications), examining reimbursement structures, mapping out the current process and identifying places for improvement, and searching the literature for best practices from other hospitals and/or specialties.  Students with a quantitative background (e.g., statistics, mathematics, engineering, or a related field) are preferred.  There is potential for one or more publications from this work, and there may be an opportunity to work on the project on an ongoing basis after the summer research program is completed.


Faculty:  Nina Solenski, MD
Department:  Neurology, Primary Stroke Center
Phone:  924-2783
Title:  Rural Emergency Quality Improvement Telestroke-Evidence Base (Rural EQUIT-E).
Abstract:  The goal of the Rural EQUIT-E Project is to establish a best practice evidence base for providing the highest quality emergency Tele- stroke care for rural communities. Specific objectives include: 1) to evaluate the effectiveness of current rural telestroke programs in improving stroke systems of care for rural-based patients that are part of the UVA Stroke Telemedicine and Tele-education (STAT) Program, and nationally through the Specialists On Call Network; 2) to evaluate the impact of implementing stroke alert quality assurance training on accelerating time to treatment for patients seeking care from rural hospital telestroke programs; and 3) to evaluate the impact of implementing mobile (pre-hospital) telestroke care for rural-based Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on accelerating time to treatment for rural stroke patients. Activities being proposed to accomplish the above objectives include: 1) retrospective analysis of UVA and SOC emergency teleneurology consult databases to compare stroke systems of care and patient outcomes with those of similar rural hospitals without telestroke; 2) implementation of stroke alert quality assurance training and dissemination of web-based training materials to key ED staff for a subset of rural telestroke programs and comparing their outcomes to rural telestroke programs who do not receive the training; and 3) implementing mobile telestroke care in rural counties of central Virginia and comparing those outcomes with traditional hospital based  telestroke programs.


Faculty:  Jared Christophel, MD (with Stephen Park, MD)
Department:  Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Phone:  243-9391
Title:  Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery Outcomes Research
Abstract:  As a member of the Otolaryngology clinical research team, the student will have the opportunity to:
-Meet most of the UVA Department of Otolaryngology.
-Join us in clinic and in the OR on the facial plastic surgery service.
-The main project will be helping to build a facial reconstructive surgery photographic database.  Student will work with health system IT programmers in trialing the database.  Once functional, student will be uploading photographs, metadata, and optimizing search algorithms for the database.   
-With any additional time, the student will help manage an ongoing research project looking at measures of psychological distress in patients undergoing facial reconstruction.  The student will be joining a prospective quality of life project and assist in data collection while in clinic, entering data into a project database, analyzing the data with statistical software, and drafting or editing the final paper.  Previous students have garnered between 1 and 3 publications during this block.


Faculty:  Rahul Sharma, PhD
Department:  Center for Immunity Inflammation and Regenerative Mexdicine, Division of Nephrology
Phone:  434-806-4732
Title:  Title: Immunotherapeutic cytokines for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases
Abstract:  T-regulatory cells (Tregs) are critical regulators of peripheral immune tolerance during health and diseases. A deficiency in the survival or function of Tregs is an underlying factor for autoimmunity and inflammation. Supplementation of homologous Tregs has been recently been explored as a therapy for inflammatory diseases in rodent models. However, obtaining Tregs in sufficient quantities for human studies and their stability post-infusion remains a challenge.  Therefore, our laboratory is involved in identifying and designing strategies to enhance the pool of endogenous Tregs. To this end we have generated a novel recombinant therapeutic cytokine, which has shown remarkable protection in several murine models of inflammatory diseases. The projects in our laboratory focus on the application of this novel therapy for prevention and treatment of acute kidney injury and chronic autoimmune inflammatory diseases (lupus glomerulonephritis, type-1 diabetes and type-2 diabetes). As expected this therapy not only increases the numbers of Tregs stably, but also enhances their function and specific targeting to the sites of inflammation.  

The specific projects for the medical student summer research program will be to use in vitro molecular biology and cellular assays to help delineate the protective mechanism as below :

(1) Identify the transcriptional pathways activated by the novel cytokine to enhance the maintenance and function of Tregs.

(2) Study how the novel therapeutic approach regulates the interaction of Tregs with other immune and non-immune cells to enforce tolerance.


Faculty:  Peter Hallowell, MD
Department:  Surgery
Phone:  243-4811
Title:  Bariatric Surgery

Clinical and biochemical markers associated with morbid obesity and inflammation.  A clinical correlation study on bariatric surgery patients who had biological samples obtained at the time of surgery, goal to determine if biologic markers correlate with clinical presentation and out comes.

Second project:
Mandated supervised weight loss prior to bariatric surgery.  Retrospective review of bariatric surgery patients who were required to undergo supervised weight loss prior to surgery.  Study question: is mandated supervised weight loss effective in morbidly obese patients seeking bariatric surgery.


Faculty: Mark Miller, MD
Department:Orthopaedic Surgery/Sports Medicine
Title: Sports Medicine Research
Abstract: Research in the area of sports medicine research including cadveric assessment of surgical techniques to address meniscal tears. This position may include planning and creating of educational videos of surgical procedures performed in the orthopaedics.


Faculty: Mark Okusa, MD
Department: Medicine
Phone: 924-2187
Title: Kidney Injury and Repair
Abstract: There are several main NIH funded projects that we are pursing:

1. Early Innate response to Ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI). In these studies we are examining the role of the mechanism of early activation of macrophages/dendritic cells leading to activation of natural killer T cells in the renal IRI. In these studies evaluate the efficacy and mechanism by which adenosine 2A agonists and sphingosine 1 phosphate analogs blocks this process. These compounds are in human clinical trials thus rapid translation to human AKI is feasible.

2. Kidney Regeneration following IRI. In this study we are examining the role of the adaptive immunity in the regenerative phase of IRI: Following IRI, activation of dendritic cells leads to an adaptive immune response by activating T lymphocytes in injury and repair. We are pursuing studies that dissects this pathway by studying the role of macrophages and dendritic cells.