Medical Student Research Day 

Paula Gregory, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research 

On Friday, November 17th, forty-two medical students presented their research results at Medical Student Research Day.  The winners from the 2017 Medical Student Research Day poster session are: 

Hunter Hidalgo1st Place – Hunter Hildago (Mentor: David Lefer) “Novel Rodent Model of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HF-pEF)” 

Karen Nelson2nd Place – Karen Nelson (Mentors: Christopher Parsons & Yussef Bennani) “HIV Outcomes in HIV+ Cancer Patients after Referral to Multidisciplinary Patient Navigation Program”  

Patrick Johnson3rd Place – Patrick Johnson (Mentor: Jennifer Mooney) “Helmet Use and Outcomes in Louisiana”  

Brett Salomon4th Place – Brett Salomon (Mentors: Vinod Dasa & Daniel Plessi) “Using a modern day rapid recovery protocol, when does pre-op range of motion return following total knee arthroplasty?” 



Medical Student Selected to Serve on National Board 

Cathy Lazarus, M.D.
Associate Dean of Student Affairs

image002year medical student Patrick Johnson has been selected to serve as a student representative to the newly formed National Board of Examiners Resident/Student Advisory panel.

The USMLE Medical Student and Resident Advisory Panel is composed of medical students and residents from across the U.S. and internationally and is charged to: 1) assist USMLE staff in working through operational issues directly impacting the examinee experience of the exam and 2) serve as a voice and resource to inform substantive policy questions from or before official USMLE committees. Topics the panel may be asked to address or weigh in on include strategic enhancements to the USMLE, communication strategies to examinees, performance feedback to examinees, the testing day experience of examinees, and changes in USMLE policy.

I know that he will do a great job representing himself, LSU and the medical student perspective. Congratulations!



Chancellor’s Award for Graduate Student Work 


David Polhemus, Ph.D. received the School of Graduate Studies Chancellor’s Award at Graduate Student Research Day held on November 3, 2017.  David was a student in the lab of Dr. David Lefer in the Cardiovascular Center of Excellence.   

The award is given each year to “a high ranking graduating student who has done the most to promote the health sciences and the School before the public. Selection is made by a committee of the faculty appointed by Dr. Joseph Moerschbaecher, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, with consultation by members of the graduating class.” 


School of Graduate Studies Jack Hines Award 

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The School of Graduate Studies announced the winner of this year’s Jack Hines Memorial Award during the Graduate Research Day Awards ceremony on November 3, 2017.  The Jack Hines Award is given to a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the School of Graduate Studies in honor of the beloved Jack D. Hines, III, former Director of the School of Graduate Studies. This year’s recipient of the Jack Hines Award is Dr. Diptasri Mandal, Department of Genetics.  Congratulations Dr. Mandal! 

Graduate Research Day 

The School of Graduate Studies held their annual Graduate Student Research Day on November 3, 2017.  During this day-long event, graduate students from a variety of labs and departments presented their research either through posters, three minute talks (also known as an “elevator talk”) and ten minute talks.  Congratulations to all of the winners of this year’s event!

Poster Winners:

  • First place – Ayesha Umrigar, Department of Genetics (Mentor: Dr. Fern Tsien)
  • Second place – Kirsten Termine, Department of Genetics (Mentor: Dr. Diptasri Mandal)
  • Third place – Paul Stoulig, Department of Physiology (Mentor: Dr. Patricia Molina)

Three Minute Talk Winners:

  • First Place – Zachary Stielper, Department of Physiology (Mentors: Dr. Patricia Molina and Dr. Nicholas Gilpin)
  • Second place – Katelyn Robillard, Neuroscience Center of Excellence (Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Lentz)
  • Third place – Thomas Flanagan, Department of Pharmacology (Mentor: Dr. Charles Nichols)

Ten Minute Talk Winner:

  • Robert Fuchs, Department of Pharmacology (Mentor: Dr. Eric Lazartigues)


New AOA Inductees 

Congratulations go out to the following 24 seniors from the LSU SOM Class of 2018 who have been selected for membership into the Louisiana Beta Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society:

  • Taylor Dickerson
  • Edward-Michael Dussom
  • Christopher Ekker
  • Megan Fitzpatrick
  • Elaine Fleming
  • Alejandro Gimenez
  • Stephanie Hampton
  • Hoang Ho-Pham
  • Kyle Hoppens
  • Mae Igi
  • Casie James
  • Mitchell John
  • Bernard Landry-Wegener
  • Matthew Migneron
  • Aimee Moran
  • Kathryn Olivier
  • Elizabeth Owers
  • Mark Rolfsen
  • Stuart Schexnayder
  • Victoria Serven
  • Gabriella Squeo
  • Garrett Whipple
  • Ian Wisecarver
  • Blake Wittenberg

The following 8 members of the LSU SOM Class of 2018 were inducted as juniors into the Louisiana Beta Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society in April:

  • Christopher Anderson
  • Joseph Fougerousse
  • Mark Hoppens
  • Paul Kepper
  • John Miller
  • Jonas Miller
  • Laura Petrauskas
  • Chloe Renshaw

Please join us in congratulating these students for achieving this most prestigious honor!


Gold Humanism Award 

The Gold Humanism Society extended its congratulations to the following students & residents who were nominated and elected by their peers for Students of the Month for August 2017!

  • Hiba Elasaas (Class of 2020)
  • Joshua Ortega (Class of 2019)
  • Amber Jarrell (Class of 2019)
  • Erika Arceneaux (Class of 2018)
  • Catherine Chappuis (Class of 2018)
  • Residents-Dr. Monica Hajirawala (Pediatrics) & Dr. Niki Patel (Med-Peds)

Their interactions with their peers, patients, and community have been noted, and they are to be commended on being such great members of the LSUHSC community.  These students embody the GHHS pillars of Respect, Integrity, Service, and Empathy.

Congratulations again and keep on being golden!

Students Present Research at National Conference 

Two medical students presented their research at the 2017 Pediatric Medical Student Research Forum, held in Orlando, Florida.  Samantha Karlin presented her work entitled “Bardet-Biedl syndrome due to a pathogenic mutation on CEP290 and an unreported TTC8 variant.”  Jacob Grodsky presented work entitled “Utility of Electron Microscopy in Kidney Transplant Biopsies.”  Travel to the conference was supported by the Department of Pediatrics with assistance from the Office of Medical Student Research within the Office of Student Affairs. 

Medical students can receive travel support to present their research at a conference by applying through the Student Affairs Office (on the Awards and Honors section).  The department the student worked in must match the funding.  

General information and policies are available for travel: 

 The application forms are available:  

Dr. Paula Gregory (, Assistant Dean for Medical Student Research, or Melanie Brown ( can answer questions students may have about the Travel Funding program. 


New App for LSU SOM Students! 

LSU Health AppThe LSU School of Medicine Companion App was designed to help the school manage our LCME accreditation site visit.  Students are required by the LCME to be familiar with multiple policies and services (needle stick policies, student health protocols, campus assistance, ombuds reporting, work hours, mistreatment policies, professionalism policies, diversity, emergency policies, etc.)  This is more than they can possibly remember, and these things are scattered across the Health Science Center and School of Medicine websites.  Therefore, we put all of this information and more in a single app for easy access.  The app includes 6 ‘buckets’: student services, directory of important numbers, policy and procedures, curriculum, clerkship information, and SGA and student organizations.  Most information is just 2 taps away once you open the app.  We have had good feedback from students so far, and we hope that the student technology committee will suggest improvements and updates in the future.

Faculty are also encouraged to get the app and it is available for free in the app store.  Search under “School of Medicine Companion” or “LSU Health Companion”.  You will need to use your LSUHSC email address and password in order to install it on your phone.  Discussion are ongoing for the development of a similar app for SOM faculty.  Stay tuned!


Can Assays be Interesting? 

Diana Battalgia – Ph.D. Candidate (Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology) 

From an outsider’s perspective, the lab is a cold and boring place where things seem to focus on the most obscure of details. While a lot of science is heavily detail-oriented, it doesn’t have to be cold or boring. There are a seemingly endless number of both complex and simple assays that can be performed.

Unfortunately, research is rarely simple. Like other areas of research, vascularization appears to be straightforward; however, while vascularization is the basis of wound healing, it also plays a role in many illnesses including cancer. Therefore, drugs blocking and promoting vascularization have a big place in research and health care. Some of the assays done to illustrate vascularization are fascinating and quite imaginative.

  • CAM (Chick Chorioallantoic Membrane Assay): This assay takes a 3 day old fertilized chicken egg and uses the developing chick embryo to model neovascularization. A small window is cut into the eggshell and a drug, a gel plug, or even cancer cells can be inserted. The effects can be viewed by a camera or by histological staining.
  • Aortic Ring Assay: Using aortas harvested from mice, new vessel formation can be measured and quantified. The aorta is collected and cleaned of all branching vessels and fat before being embedded in a matrix. After a few days, the growth of new vessels can be visualized under a microscope with additional information being provided by staining.
  • Tubule Formation Assay: Endothelial cells plated in a matrix will spontaneous form tubules and organize into a three-dimensional network of vessels. With a time-lapse video, it is possible to watch the migration and replication of these cells as they form a complex honeycomb shaped system. Image J, a program that allows the quantification of visual data, is commonly used to measure the lengths of tubules and the number of nodes formed.
  • Corneal Angiogenesis Assay: The cornea is usually avascular but by cutting a pouch into the cornea and inserting a gel plug or sponge, it is possible to measure the resulting vascularization. Removing the insert and quantifying vessel permeation then measures the effects of a drug placed in the insert.
  • Zebrafish Embryo Model: Zebrafish embryos are a fast and inexpensive method to model neovascularization in vivo. This animal model can be used to screen anti-angiogenic compounds and to track the genetic expression of vessels in the developing eye. Images can be taken under a microscope.

Human biology is so carefully interwoven and complex that it’s nearly impossible to understand a single event without understanding countless others. Assays such as these take into account the complexity of a living system. Many of these assays are used in labs here at LSUHSC.