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Rochester Medical Student Chosen for Research Program

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Elise Meoli, a member of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Class of 2009, has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute and National Institutes of Health Resident Scholar.

Meoli, a native of New Haven, Conn., will live for a year on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, while conducting research in NIH laboratories. She is one of 42 people from across the country selected by HHMI for the Resident Scholars Program.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” Meoli said. “I did research before coming to medical school, but I feel I now have a much better foundation from which to contribute my own ideas to the projects I work on and understand the biomedical literature. This program will be an opportunity for me to learn to take more responsibility over my research.”

Meoli has not selected a project yet but she hopes to study multiple sclerosis, specifically from an immune regulation/autoimmunity angle.  

With almost $4 million of support from the Hughes institute, a total of 111 medical and dental students from across the country will participate in two programs designed to help meet the need for researchers with medical and dental training.

“Physician-scientists contribute a unique and valuable perspective to the research community,” said William Galey, graduate science education program director at HHMI. “They have a direct knowledge of where improved therapies and diagnostics are most needed, as well as an understanding of how to approach those problems in a laboratory setting. By offering outstanding medical and dental students the opportunity to experience the challenges and rewards of research, we hope to encourage them to make research part of their careers.”

In addition to the 42 students selected to participate in the Research Scholars Program, 69 students will conduct research through HHMI's Research Training Fellowships for Medical Students (Medical Fellows) Program, which supports a year of full-time research at an institution of the fellow's choosing.

For the 2007 competition, HHMI received a total of 336 applications from students at 96 different medical and dental schools. HHMI makes a special effort to attract women and minorities underrepresented in the sciences to apply for these programs. This year, 43 percent of the research scholars and 39 percent of the medical fellows are women, and approximately 14 percent of the research scholars and 13 percent of the medical fellows are underrepresented minorities.

The Research Scholars Program and the Medical Fellows Program are part of a larger effort by HHMI to integrate basic research and clinical experience.

“It is important to close the gap between bed and bench,” said Peter J. Bruns, HHMI’s vice president for grants and special programs. “We bring medical students to the lab to immerse them in scientific inquiry and graduate students to the clinic to expose them to medically important problems. Our intent is to increase the number of professionals who apply science in the service of medicine.”

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