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Students Showcase Scholarly Work at Research Symposium

Rows of research posters filled the quadrangle of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as more than 50 excited medical students gathered to present their research during the two-day American Physician Scientist Association (APSA) Student Research Symposium.

Sharleen Cineas discussing a research poster with a student.
Sharleen Cineas presents her poster on “Using Synthetic Biology to Quantify the Surface Expression of the G-protein Coupled Receptor CASR.”

Research is a staple at the Miller School, and medical students are given ample pathways and resources to dive into their scientific passions starting in their first year. The APSA Student Research Symposium, now in its second year and first time in person, is one of the many platforms provided for students to exhibit their scholarly work.

“It’s our privilege to give students the opportunity to present their work and celebrate these amazing scientific discoveries,” said Hilit Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for student affairs. “The Miller School allows its students to fuel their curiosity and run with their ideas, many of which are proudly displayed at this symposium.”

Medical Scholarship and Research

Connor Shatz standing beside his research poster
Connor Shatz, winner of the public health poster category for his research “Knives Hurt, Guns Kill: Not All Penetrating Trauma Is of the Same Caliber.”

The symposium featured medical students of various backgrounds and research topics. In the public health poster category, Connor Shatz, M.D. Class of 2024, took first place for his research on different calibers of penetrating trauma. Mynor Mendez, M.D. Class of 2024, followed suit with his poster presentation on the herpes simplex virus and glioblastoma. Austin Newsam, M.D. Class of 2023, won the outstanding oral presentation category for his work on the RHOA inactivation gene and lymphoma.

“For many of our medical students, this was the first in-person event where they showcased their scholarly work to peers and faculty alike,” said Kayla Schwartz, M.D./Ph.D. Class of 2025 and APSA president. “It is both humbling and thrilling to assemble such a talented group of budding physician-scientists who will surely make large impacts in medicine.”

To further demonstrate the power of research to the student, accomplished researchers from the Miller School and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) served as keynote speakers and shared advice about their own research journeys.

Joel Moss, M.D., Ph.D., research and pulmonary fellow at the NIH, spoke on lymphangioleiomyomatosis, a disorder characterized by the slow cystic destruction of the lung. Ashish H. Shah, M.D., director of clinical trials and translational research at the Miller School, spoke about recent advances in surgical neuro-oncology and life as a surgeon-scientist.

“Our distinguished speakers truly elevated the symposium with their unforgettable presentations,” added Abdulrahman Allaf, M.D. Class of 2025 and APSA symposium co-director. “This was an event several months in the making, and seeing its culmination with incredible research presentations and speakers was fulfilling.”

Standout Student Research in Public Health and Biomedicine

Dr. Hilit Mechaber and others and Suhas Seshadri with award
Suhas Seshadri receiving the Alving Award in Public Health

Concluding the event were the recipients of the Drs. Barbara and Carl Alving Endowed Awards, given to students with the most promising research accomplishments.

Suhas Seshadri, M.D. Class of 2023, received the Alving Award in Public Health for his blood pressure project among Miami’s unsheltered population. His study shows that the Miami-Dade homeless population has higher blood pressure levels than the general population and treatment and management should be tailored to this unique group.

“This award is an honor and further motivates me to continue my work,” Seshadri said. “My research reinforces the importance of giving more attention to this community and providing them with the health care they deserve.”

Dr. Hilit Mechaber and others and Christine Ryan with award
Christine Ryan received the Alving Award in Biomedical Science.

Christine Ryan, M.D. Class of 2026, received the Alving Award in Biomedical Science for her research aimed at better understanding cells that are preventing patients to heal after a spinal cord injury.

“I am continually grateful for the Miller School’s commitment to training the next generation of physician-scientists,” Ryan said. “It was an honor to be recognized at the APSA Symposium among my peers as we all presented some impressive research.”

A full list of winners can be found here along with the photo gallery from the event.

Tags: American Physician Scientist Association (APSA), ASPA symposium, Dr. Ashish Shah, Dr. Hilit Mechaber, Miller School Class of 2023, student research