Award Grants Medical Student Valuable Hematology Research Experience

Posted in GUMC Stories

OCTOBER 9, 2014—A Georgetown University School of Medicine (new window) student was one of 12 first- and second-year medical students from the United States and Canada to participate in the American Society of Hematology (new window)’s eight-week Minority Medical Student Award Program (new window) (MMSAP) this year. The career-development award program is designed to foster minority medical students’ interest in the field of hematology.

Odianosen Eigbire-molen’s (M’17) research project, which began in June, focuses on the impact of sickle cell disease on adolescent brains. Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that causes the body to produce red blood cells shaped like sickles or crescents.

“Pain and cerebrovascular accidents, or strokes, are common complications of sickle cell disease, both of which have long-term implications in brain development,” says Eigbire-molen.

Eigbire-molen’s project has two main objectives: to determine the effect of sickle cell disease on the brain and to see if current clinical therapies for sickle cell disease, which include medication and chronic transfusion, protect the brain from possible effects of the disease.

To conduct the research, Eigbire-molen uses MRI to compare brain scans of adolescents with sickle cell disease with those without the disease, looking specifically at differences in overall and localized brain volume.

Each awardee receives a $5,000 research stipend plus a travel allowance to attend and present his or her findings at the 56th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting in San Francisco in December.

Gaining Research Exposure

For Eigbire-molen, the MMSAP provided the ideal opportunity to conduct summer research between his first and second years of school.

“For me personally, I wanted to get exposure to clinical research,” he says. “I also wanted to learn more about the science behind blood disorders and treatments for patients.”

Based on his background and interests, the American Society of Hematology paired Eigbire-molen with two research mentors, both sickle cell experts from the Children’s National Health System (new window) in Washington: Naomi Luban, MD (new window), and Deepika Darbari, MD (new window).

“I really learned a lot over the summer about how research is conducted and how to work with other people in science,” says Eigbire-molen.

Although the program ended in August, Eigbire-molen’s research will continue.

“I’m continuing the research project throughout the school year with my mentors,” he says. “We’re collecting more images and trying to answer the questions we have about this disease.”

By Sarah Reik
GUMC Communications