April 18, 2023 — In a world of rapid discovery and perplexing health care mysteries, doctoral students in the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences are making an impact as they tackle today’s biggest medical questions.
Eight graduate students presented their thesis research to an audience of peers, mentors and colleagues during the 48th annual Medical Guild Research Symposium on April 12 in the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building. Competing for bronze, silver and gold prizes of $1,000-$2,500 endowed by the UF Medical Guild Inc., each student represented their biomedical sciences concentration to a panel of faculty judges. Their research explored new therapies, imaging techniques and analyses of complex and deadly conditions, like diabetes, metastatic cancer and hypertension.
“This is a great opportunity to showcase our next-generation scientists,” said College of Medicine Dean Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., to the symposium audience. “You can really see their research in action. I’d also like to express my gratitude to the Medical Guild. Your support over the years has been incredible.”
Thomas Rowe, Ph.D., director of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and associate dean for graduate education, said the annual symposium is an inspiration to faculty mentors and students alike.
“You can’t help but feel great knowing this is the future of the biomedical sciences field,” he said. “It’s remarkable how sophisticated they’ve become and how creatively they’re thinking.”
This year, a new award was added to the competition to recognize one additional student whose work was outstanding in the earlier competition rounds. Natalie Johnson, a graduate researcher in the pharmacology and therapeutics concentration, received the inaugural Honorable Mention Award.
Rachel Newsome, a UF undergraduate alumna and fifth-year doctoral candidate in the cancer biology concentration, took home the gold prize for her research targeting the gut microbiome in lung cancer patients to improve their immune response. She plans to use a portion of her winnings to throw a pizza party for her lab. And after graduating later this year, Newsome said, she and her mentor, Christian Jobin, Ph.D., a tenured professor of medicine and program leader of cancer microbiota and host response at the UF Health Cancer Center, want to start a company based on the microbiome therapy.
“We’re hoping to apply it to colorectal cancer and brain cancer with potential for all cancers,” Newsome said. “I’m very surprised but very honored to receive the gold award. Everyone who presented was really amazing.”