Skip to main content
Explore URMC

SMD Logo



20182017201620152014 Archive

APSA Meeting Summary

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

By Andrew Shubin, G3

This year's APSA conference was held at Mt. Sinai in New York City. Rochester was well represented by Alex Hajduczok, Aisha Siebert, Andrew Shubin, and Alison Gaylo. The morning session started off with a great lecture by Patrizia Casaccia M.D,Ph.D. who presented on the molecular causes of multiple sclerosis, namely histone deacytelation within neurons. Next was followed by a lecture by Sohail Tavazoie, M.D., PH.D. from Rockefeller University who talked about the screening of microRNAs that are related to metastatic disease. Somewhat surprisingly he found that many of the microRNAs converged on down-regulating ApoE and that upregulating ApoE resulted in reduced cancer metastasis.

After lunch breakout sessions were held on topics such as Communicating your research findings, Transitioning back to the clinical years, and Successful grant writing among others. The afternoon plenary sessions were given by Moses Chao Ph.D. of NYU and Scott Mellis MD, Ph.D who works in industry. Dr. Chao talked about his research career and gave advice for our own career development. Dr. Mellis gave an overview of industry and talked about some of the opportunities for physician scientists in that area. The meeting was formally concluded with dinner and a poster session. I am proud to announce that two of the three poster prize winners were from Rochester (Aisha Siebert and Andrew Shubin)! A bunch of students did some informal networking at a nearby bar after the meeting.

Overall the meeting was a great experience, we got to listen to some awesome speakers (seriously google and pubmed these people), and meet people from other programs. I cannot stress how interesting it was to talk to people from other programs and to identify some common challenges we all face as well as things programs do differently. I hope you all join me for the national meeting this april and subsequent meetings next year!

Andrew Shubin and Aisha Siebert Receive Awards for Top Posters at the APSA Conference

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

photo of the poster winners

Andrew Shubin with fellow Rochester MSTP student
(and also poster award winner) Aisha Siebert displaying their
prize of fancy chocolates.

MSTP students, Andrew Shubin and Aisha Siebert received awards for top poster at the American Physician Scientist Association Northeast Regional Conference in New York City on Nov 1st, 2014. Andrew Shubin's Poster: Development of Poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels for salivary gland regeneration was selected as one of the top 3 posters.

Andrew is currently doing PhD research in the Benoit lab and Aisha is doing research with Jack Werren on Extended phenotype of ectoparasitic wasp (Nasonia) venoms - epigentics, genomics and therapeutic applications.

Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program Hosts the Tri-Institutional Conference

Sunday, October 12, 2014

By Stephanie Syc, MS2/G2

On October 11th, the Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program hosted the Tri-Institutional Conference, an opportunity for MD/PhD students from SUNY Upstate Medical University, the University at Buffalo, and the University of Rochester to their present their research and discuss topics of shared interest. Dr. Jim Palis, Professor Department of Pediatrics, Hematology, and Oncology, gave the keynote address, The developmental origins of blood-thinking like an embryo. Three students speakers, one from each institution, also gave oral research presentations while over thirty posters were presented.

In the afternoon, students had the opportunity to choose between several career developmental workshops including: Budget Management 101, Global Health and the Clinical Scientist, Good to Great: Practice Tips on Crafting an Effective Fellowship Proposal, and Transitioning to a Research Career. These workshops gave attendees an opportunity to meet with faculty experts and discuss topics of interest with like-minded students in a small-group setting. Thank you to all who participated!

MSTP Program Holds Annual Retreat

Monday, August 18, 2014

The annual MSTP Retreat was held at the Rochester Yacht Club on beautiful Lake Ontario (15 minutes from downtown Rochester) on Friday, August 8, 2014. Eight incoming students were welcomed by Dr. Kerry O'Banion, MSTP Director, followed by 6 student oral presentations on research.

Keynote speaker Jeffrey Bazarian, MD, MPH, Associate Professor in Emergency Medicine and Neurology, presented an extremely interesting talk on his research on brain injury resulting from subconcussive head blows and their links to neurodegenerative disorders such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

For photos of the event please see the MSTP Retreat Photo Album.

Paige Stepping Aside as Chair of Neurobiology & Anatomy

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gary D. Paige, M.D., Ph.D., is stepping down after 16 years of service as chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as interim chair effective July 1, 2014 while a national search for a permanent chair is conducted.

Medical Scientist Training Program Recruitment Weekend Draws Prospectives From Near and Far

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

photo of MSTP students

Revisit Weekend prospectives join Medical Scientist Training Program students on a tour of the Rochester Public Market

By Katherine Herman, Admissions Co-Chair

Every year, the Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program hosts prospective students for Revisit, a recruitment weekend that involves a second look at the program, medical campus, and the beautiful city of Rochester. This year, nine students joined us from across the country to experience more of what Rochester has to offer.

Festivities kicked off Thursday evening at some of the program’s favorite haunts: The Gatehouse, for heaping helpings of delicious sweet potato fries and gourmet burgers, and Tap and Mallet, for a wide selection of brews from near and far. Current first and second years took some time away from studying to get to know their future colleagues who might be joining them in the Scientific Reasoning in Medicine journal club this fall.

Friday morning activities got started early with an on-campus welcome breakfast hosted by our program director, Dr. Kerry O’Banion. Prospective students then broke out into their individual itineraries for the day, which included meeting with potential mentors, touring the facilities, and even observing surgeries in the operating room! After touching base again for an informal faculty/student luncheon with the entire program, applicants enjoyed more conversations with investigators and learned more about extracurricular opportunities at the School of Medicine & Dentistry Activities Fair.

Prospectives were wined and dined at the incredible George Eastman House, home of the inventor and founder of Eastman Kodak, The mansion’s intricate architecture, lovely décor, quirky miscellany, and photography exhibits entertained guests before enjoying a fine dinner. Guests learned interesting facts about the early history of film, and prospectives even drew their own animated movies at the museum’s learning center!

Saturday morning, prospective students were guided through the Rochester Public Market – a place famous among Rochestarians for good, fresh produce, as well as a variety of food and nonperishable goods. Prospectives sampled the many restaurant options at the Market, including the renowned Juan and Maria’s Empanada Stop and fresh pastries, breakfast sandwiches, coffee and macarons at Flour City Bread Company. The afternoon included a drive-through tour of the trendy Park Avenue neighborhood and a fun day of climbing at RockVentures. After a hard day’s work, prospectives refueled at Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery for locally churned ice cream.

The entire program joined prospectives again for a Saturday evening soirée, held at ArtisanWorks, a one-of-a-kind space filled floor to ceiling with eclectic art installations. A cocktail hour and buffet were followed by a private tour of the various galleries.

Revisit Weekend 2014 concluded on Sunday morning with a tour of neighborhoods and housing options on- and off-campus, followed by a relaxing brunch near the Erie Canal. Andrew Cox, President and interim Admissions Co-Chair, commented, We hope the revisiters all had a wonderful time in our city – and we hope to see them in the fall!

Conference Report: American Physician Scientist Association 10th Annual Meeting

Friday, May 23, 2014

By Stephanie Syc, APSA Institutional Representative

The 10th annual American Physician Scientist Association (APSA) Annual Meeting was held April 25-27, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois. APSA is a trainee-led organization for physician-scientist trainee advocacy. The Association focuses on mentoring, networking, outreach, and resources for physician-scientist trainees. Three students from the Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) attended, along with the MSTP Director and APSA Board of Directors member, Dr. Kerry O’Banion. Andy Cox, G3, received a travel award from the American Academy of Immunologists to present his work, A Mouse Model for Analysis of Modifications to Increase the Safety of the Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine. Aisha Siebert, G3, also presented a poster, Transcriptional Control of Human Cellular Metabolism by Wasp Venom: Nasonia vitripennis Venom-Derived Bioactive Peptides as Candidate Therapeutics for Human Metabolic Disorders. Stephanie Syc, G1, attended as the University of Rochester Institutional Representative.

Highlights from the meeting included presentations by esteemed scientists such as:

  • Dr. Peter Agre, Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on proteins that mediate water flow across cellular membranes
  • Dr. Brian Kobilka, Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on signal transduction
  • Dr. Paul Offit, Co-inventor of a vaccine against a common cause of childhood diarrhea
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Mentoring opportunities included a lunch with residency directors and a breakfast with student groups promoting interest in research-oriented clinical specialties. The meeting also provided students with the opportunity to interact with members of the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, two of the pre-eminent societies for physician scientists.

Medical Scientist Training Program Announces Leadership Changes

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in the School of Medicine will be undergoing leadership changes effective 7/1/14 with Marc Halterman, MD, PhD taking on the position of Associate Director.

photo of Marc Halterman

Marc Halterman, MD, PhD

Douglas Turner, PhD, who has served the Program in many capacities since 1989, will be stepping down from his current position as Associate Director to take a well-deserved sabbatical. MSTP Director, Kerry O’Banion, MD, PhD commented, I am deeply indebted to Doug Turner for providing support and encouragement to me when I became Co-Director in 2000, and for his continued role as a key member of the MSTP Admissions Committee, thesis advisor, grant reviewer, and a clear example of the close relationship between the College and the Medical School. Notably, Doug has mentored six MSTP students in his laboratory. I wish him much success as he ventures into new areas of research inquiry.

photo of Douglas Turner

Douglas Turner, PhD

Stepping into the MSTP Associate Director position on 7/1/14 will be Marc Halterman, MD, PhD. Dr. Halterman graduated from the MSTP at Rochester in 2002 and went on to complete a Neurology Residency and Research Fellowship at University of Rochester. He is now Associate Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, and Director of the Neurology Academic Research Track, a research residency training program at University of Rochester. In addition, he serves on an NIH review panel for predoctoral NRSA (F) grants. Dr. Halterman has already generously given of his time serving the MSTP in several capacities. Since September 2011 he has acted as Course Director of MSTP-specific course Scientific Reasoning in Medicine. He joined the MSTP Admissions Committee in 2013 and is thesis advisor to one MSTP trainee conducting her PhD research in his laboratory. Dr. Halterman has also provided individual training and career advice to many MSTP students. As Associate Director, he will continue to be engaged in all of these activities and take on a broader role in helping trainees consider their options for research and residency selection. He will continue to serve as a member of the MSTP Admissions Committee and assist Dr. O’Banion in running an F30 Grant Writing Workshop for MSTP students.

Dr. O’Banion continued, I very much look forward to working with Marc Halterman as we enter a new five-year funded cycle of the MSTP training grant and prepare for the 40th anniversary celebration of MSTP funding in October, 2015.

Salvador Peña Awarded Fellowship to Study Mitochondrial Stress Response

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

By Salvador Peña

MSTP and Pathology graduate student Salvador Peña was granted an F31 National Research Service Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for his work on hypoxia and the mitochondrial unfolded protein response. This proposal is designed to test whether activation of this unfolded protein response can protect against ischemia-reperfusion injury in the genetic model organism C. elegans, and to identify conserved signaling molecules that sense mitochondrial stress and trigger adaptation in mammals. Salvador is currently a third-year graduate student in Dr. Keith Nehrke’s Laboratory in the Nephrology Division of the Department of Medicine.

Match Day 2014: Medical Scientist Training Program Matches 9 Students Across the Nation

Monday, March 24, 2014

By Kyle Koster, Public Relations Chair

Friday, March 21 was a bright day for the Medical Scientist Training Program. As the seconds ticked closer to noon, the buzz in Helen Wood Hall escalated, only to be replaced by a sudden silence as MSTP and medical students tore open envelopes revealing the programs to which they matched for residency training. This year was a particularly interesting and successful year for the MSTP. Students matched to top choices across the country; four MSTP students matched to West Coast programs and three to East Coast programs, with one student remaining in Rochester and another on to New Mexico. The choice of specialties was similarly broad, with four students matching into surgical specialties, two students into internal medicine, and three into the behavioral sciences.

This May, the program graduates nine students, all of whom matched on Friday. The MSTP congratulates its Class of 2014 with a graduation brunch at Mario's on April 27.


Melisa Carrasco
Univ. of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
Pediatrics-Preliminary/Child Neurology
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD
Child Neurology
Joanna Olsen
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine
Scott Peslak
Hospital of the U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Internal Medicine–ABIM Research Track
Phillip Rappold
University of Rochester Medical Center, NY
Danny Rogers
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Pediatrics-Preliminary/Child Neurology
Mercedes Szpunar
University of California, San Diego Medical Center, CA
Psychiatry–Research Track
Edward Vuong
North Shore-LIJ Health System, Manhasset, NY
Internal Medicine
Ethan Winkler
University of California, San Francisco, CA
Neurological Surgery
Michael Wu
University of California, San Francisco, CA
Anesthesiology–Research Track

Biomedical Engineering Graduate Students Take Second Place in Orthopaedic Video Competition

Sunday, March 16, 2014

By Kyle Koster, Public Relations Chair

On Sunday, March 16, Biomedical Engineering graduate students Youssef Farhat and Bryan Bobo heard the news: second place! The news comes months after they began promoting their video across the University of Rochester Medical Center. Farhat and Bobo stated that they submitted the video to emphasize the importance of collaboration between scientists and physicians in improving care in the field of orthopaedics. Their video, titled Working Together for a Better Future features stories from physicians, scientists, and engineers in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research. The stories emphasize the high quality and collaborative nature of orthopaedic research at the University of Rochester. Farhat and Bobo want to thank all of our colleagues who helped make filming the video possible, as well as the entire University of Rochester community for their tremendous support during the voting process.... For their excellent work, Farhat and Bobo will share a second place trophy and $1,000 honorarium.

Last year, Farhat's video, Who Cares About Orthopaedic Research?, took first place. Farhat, an MD-PhD trainee in the Medical Scientist Training Program, also points out that 2014 is the second year in a row that the University of Rochester took first place in the competition. Farhat comments, I think that's a reflection of the excellence of this institution and its prominence, particularly in the field of orthopaedic research.

Andrew Cox Awarded Technology Development Grant for Influenza Vaccine

Monday, March 10, 2014

By Kyle Koster, Public Relations Chair

Andrew 'Andy' Cox, third-year graduate student in the Immunology-Microbiology-Virology graduate program and Medical Scientist Training Program, was awarded a technology development grant from the University of Rochester Office of Technology Transfer in January, with funds starting in April. Andy, as the PI, will investigate strategies to increase the usage of the live attenuated influenza vaccine in the lab of Steve Dewhurst, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology.

Andy hypothesizes one reason that this vaccine is currently underutilized is that it is not FDA approved in all children due to safety concerns in those under two and asthmatics. However, Andy has identified additional mutations in the influenza genome that increases its temperature sensitivity in tissue culture at physiologic temperatures. The impact of these mutations on the attenuation of these viruses will be examined in an animal model of influenza infection.

First Optics Student Joins MD/PhD Program

Monday, February 24, 2014

photo of Daniel Savage

Daniel Savage

Daniel Savage of The Institute of Optics has been accepted by the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry into the Medical Scientist Training Program. This NIH-sponsored program trains outstanding students to undertake careers in biomedical research and academic medicine through an integrated program of graduate training in the biomedical sciences and clinical training. Graduates receive the combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree, and many of them pursue careers in basic biomedical or clinical research. Daniel would be the first student in the Institute's history to earn a Ph.D. and M.D from the University of Rochester. That will be quite an achievement! His co-advisors, by the way, are Wayne Knox, Professor of Optics and of Physics, and Krystel Huxlin, Professor of Ophthalmology, of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Both are members of the Center for Visual Science. For the last three years, Daniel was supported by a graduate student fellowship on the CVS training grant funded by the National Eye Institute.

MSTP Student, Lisa Niswander's Article Featured in Flow Cytometry Shared Resource Lab Site

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Current MD/PhD student in Dr. James Palis' Lab, Lisa Niswander, has published an article, Improved quantitative analysis of primary bone marrow megakaryocytes utilizing imaging flow cytometry which has been selected as the first featured article on the Flow Cytometry Shared Resource Lab website. The article was very well received and prompted a special commentary in the journal as well entitled Mega Cytometry for a mega challenging cell type by Andrew Filby. Congratulations to Lisa!

Read More: MSTP Student, Lisa Niswander's Article Featured in Flow Cytometry Shared Resource Lab Site

Nobel Laureate to Speak at Medical Center

Monday, January 6, 2014

The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry is welcoming Nobel Laureate Thomas R. Cech, Ph.D. this month. Cech will deliver two talks in conjunction with the school's third annual Medical Scientist Research Symposium. The talks will be held in the Class of '62 Auditorium. They are free of charge and open to the U of R community.

Long Non-Coding RNAs and Their Protein Partners, Thursday, January 23 from 4 – 5 p.m. Sponsored by Departments of Biology, Biochemistry & Biophysics, Chemistry, and Center for RNA Biology

Telomerase in Health and Disease: Genomics and the Future of Medicine, Friday, January 24 from 1 – 2 p.m. Sponsored by Medical Scientist Training Program and the Dr. Thomas A. and Joyce E. Pearson Endowed Lectureship Fund

Read More: Nobel Laureate to Speak at Medical Center