KU Medical Center graduate and undergraduate students take part in research days at the Kansas Capitol

March 30, 2018

By Greg Peters

Two students from the University of Kansas Medical Center received awards at the 15th Annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit March 27 in Topeka. Judges from academia and industry identified two students from each Kansas Board of Regents' school in attendance to win $500 scholarships from BioKansas and from their respective school.

Shireen Usman was honored with the BioKansas Award and Nicholas Marchello garnered the KU Medical Center Award.

The summit takes place annually as a way to emphasize the role that graduate student research plays at the Kansas Board of Regents' institutions. Graduate researchers from KU Medical Center were joined by their peers from KU-Lawrence, Emporia State, Fort Hays State, Kansas State, Pittsburg State and Wichita State at the summit, which was delayed from February because of weather.

The BioKansas Award recognizes the top researchers along with the projects that show the best potential for commercialization and influencing the state. Usman, who is a School of Medicine student in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, presented "Transcriptome Characterization and Development of Targeted Therapy in Juvenile Nasopharyngeal Angiofibroma (JNA)."

Juvenile Nasopharyngeal Angiofibroma is a pediatric head and neck tumor, for which the current main treatment is surgery, but this can lead to many complications because of the location and nature of the tumor. By using patient tumor samples and RNA screening, Usman and her fellow researchers discovered several growth factors contributing to the proliferation of JNA. Her team found two drug inhibitors that were successful in stopping tumor growth, with the ultimate goal being getting the drugs into clinical trials.

"Being selected for the BioScience Award was very exciting because this means other people are just as thrilled about this research as I am," Usman said. "I am really thankful for the opportunity to present at the Capitol Research Summit, and I think this event highlights that the future of scientific research is still bright."

Marchello, a doctoral student in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, presented "Diet Quality During Weight Maintenance in Rural Breast Cancer Survivors." Marchello said the key takeaway from his research is that breast cancer survivors who improve their diets while on a weight-loss program can maintain their eating habits after the program ends if they continue to receive education and encouragement.

"The KUMC Award is a big deal for me," he said. It makes me feel like my research was well-received and that my research into improving and maintaining diet quality is an important area to focus efforts and funds. I'm appreciated and humbled by the honor."

Other graduate student researchers from KU Medical Center represented at the summit included Lisa Larson, a doctoral student in the School of Nursing and recently appointed associate dean for the new Salina campus of the School of Nursing; Asona Lui, a doctoral student in molecular and integrative physiology; and Jackie Thompson, a doctoral  student in biochemistry and molecular biology.

On Feb. 14, eight students from the schools of Health Professions and Nursing at KU Medical Center took part in the annual Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. The day is designed to raise the awareness of lawmakers, educators, students and the general public about work done by undergraduate students at the Kansas Board of Regents' four-year institutions.

"I was honored to showcase my project to legislators, including my local senator and representative, and network with peers from various universities across the state," said Ashley Sage from Georgetown, Delaware. "I hope that those who viewed my presentation learned that nurses are important members of the workforce, and by providing joy and meaning to nurses in work is a stepping stone to reduce dissatisfying work environments and decrease nursing turnover."

Students from both the University Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center joined their peers from the Kansas Board of Regents other four-year universities on the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda where they gave brief poster presentations pertaining to their research.

Foue seniors were presenters from the School of Nursing. Rebecca Cates, from Roeland Park, displayed her research poster titled "Assessing the Mental Health of Refugees Relocated to the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Using the Refugee Health Screener-15 (RHS-15)." Mary Katherine Kancel, from Leawood, presented "Optimal Digital Capillary Puncture for Use in Point-of-Care Instrumentation." Sage presented her poster titled "Organizational Sources of Joy and Meaning in Work Among Nurses Working in Acute Care Hospitals." And Megan Wagner, from Overland Park, presented, "Acceptability and Use of Apps for Psychological Wellbeing among HIV-Infected African American Women."

"Overall it was a wonderful experience, and I was so proud to represent KU Medical Center," said Wagner. "I got to present my research to Sen. Jim Denning, and that was a great interaction."


15th annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit
Lisa Larson, doctoral student in nursing, "Perceptions and Experiences of Kansas Baccalaureate Nursing Program Leaders Related to Nursing Informatics."
Asona Lui, doctoral student in molecular and integrative physiology, "Interferon Stimulated Genes are Overexpressed in Aromatase Inhibitor-resistant Breast Cancer and Can Be Targeted to Inhibit Tumor Invasion."
Nicholas Marchello, doctoral student in dietetics and nutrition, "Diet Quality During Weight Maintenance in Rural Breast Cancer Survivors."
Jackie Thompson, doctoral student in biochemistry and molecular biology, "Homegrown Biomedical Research: Research Highlights from the Graduate Students in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas Medical Center."
Shireen Usman, medical student, Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, "Transcriptome Characterization and Development of Targeted Therapy in Juvenile Nasopharyngeal Angiofibroma."

Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol
Abdulrahman Alsulaiman, Minahal Baig and Mohammed Bin Daeag, Overland Park, and Kikelomo Ojo, Lenexa, seniors in respiratory therapy, Karen Schell (mentor), School of Health Professions, "Art Speaks."
Rebecca Cates, senior, Roeland Park, Martha Baird and Carol Buller (mentors), School of Nursing, "Assessing the Mental Health of Refugees Relocated to the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Using the Refugee Health Screener-15 (RHS-15)."
Mary Katherine Kancel, senior, Leawood, Janet Pierce and Qiuhua Shen (mentors), School of Nursing, "Optimal Digital Capillary Puncture for Use in Point-of-Care Instrumentation."
Ashley Sage, senior, Georgetown, Delaware, Heather Nelson-Brantley (mentor), School of Nursing, "Organizational Sources of Joy and Meaning in Work Among Nurses Working in Acute Care Hospitals."
Megan Wagner, senior, Overland Park, Jill Peltzer (mentor), School of Nursing, "Acceptability and Use of Apps for Psychological Wellbeing among HIV-Infected African American Women." 

Last modified: Jun 19, 2018
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