Twenty-three STaRS Share Their Summer Research

The Summer Training as Research Scholars (STaRS) program concluded its 10-week research experience with a symposium on Aug. 8 in the classrooms on the second floor of the Instructional building.

Overseen by Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS), the STaRS Program is funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH. It has trained 136 scholars and has received more than 3,000 applications since its inception.

In the program, trainees work with faculty and fellow students on cutting-edge biomedical research projects, build powerful and lasting relationships and set a course for college and career success. Each week students work alongside mentors in their assigned laboratories, present their research at meetings known as “oral presentations” and attend seminars aimed at preparing for professional life after college.

After an opening welcome from Director of the STaRS program Isabel Dominguez, PhD, who also serves as assistant professor in Medicine, the symposium began with two presentations from students to fellow STaRS participants, mentors and medical campus community members:

  • Sabreea Parnell, a second year MD student, spent the summer studying the role of a newly identified vascular protein, Bcl11b, in the development of aortic aneurysms.
  • Cynthia Flores worked in the Bachschmid laboratory on novel gene therapeutic approaches to attenuate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and fibrosis.

This year the class included 21 undergraduates from across the country and two current BUSM students, for a total of 23 participants. The 2019 Scholars included Olu Ayeni, Stephanie Camey, Justin Coleman, Gina Conroy, Diego De Alba, Dylan Dominguez, Sojourna Ferguson, Cynthia Flores, Braden Garland, Nina Goodson, Jacob Hernandez, Shantae Lewis, Antonio Lopez, Bethany Onyirimba, Sabreea Parnell, Kayley Pate, Moises Ramirez, Erlin Ravariere, Gerardo Sequen Rivera, Chelsey Skeete, Paris Taylor, Carlos Ticas, and Ajah Williams.

“The STaRS program has been an incredible experience that has catalyzed my growth as an undergraduate student. My mentors both in the lab and in the program have been dedicated to my development as an aspiring scientist,” said Chelsey Skeete. “It has been motivating bonding with a group of students with various backgrounds yet who are all dedicated to succeeding in a career in science. I feel so humbled and blessed to have this experience and would like to thank Dr. Isabel Dominguez and the STaRS program for including me in this community.”

“The STaRS program was a great opportunity to work with top-scientists, gain insight into new fields of medicine, and learn about future career paths. This program provided an excellent environment to grow as a scientist and become a more well-rounded professional and individual,” shared Kayley Pate.

Faculty mentors included Markus Bachschmid, PhD; Ajit Bharti, PhD; Jude Deeney, PhD; Neil J. Ganem, PhD; Haiyan Gong, MD, PhD; Deepa Gopal, MD; Suryaram Gummuluru, PhD; Dennis Jones, PhD; Thomas Kepler, PhD; Vijaya Kolachalama, PhD; Jennifer Luebke, PhD; Maria  Medalla, PhD; Gareth Morgan, PhD; Lee Quinton, PhD; Francesca Seta, PhD; David Sherr, PhD; Jeffrey Siracuse, MD; Vickery Trinkaus-Randall, PhD; Ludovic Trinquart, PhD; Xaralabos Varelas, PhD; Jonathan Wisco, PhD; Kei Yasuda, PhD; and Basilis Zikopoulos, PhD.

Following the individual presentations, other STaRS students discussed their work on a variety of topics including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, amyloidosis, immunology, cancer and neuroscience during a poster session. Participants received certificates to mark the completion of the program.

“It has been inspiring to watch the STaRS scholars growth both personally and as researchers,” said Dr. Dominguez. “It’s been amazing watching them realize their passion for science under the mentorship of our faculty and laboratory members, and to see them empowered to follow their path to graduate school.”

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