September 11, 2017
Inaugural Vanderbilt Meharry Summer Research Program in Pediatrics
Last year at the department's Leadership Retreat, one of the action items was to improve opportunities for mentorship for medical students at Meharry Medical College. To this end, department leadership created the Vanderbilt Meharry Medical Student Summer Internship, an eight-week intensive research program designed to foster interests in pediatrics in general and Vanderbilt pediatric residency program specifically.
Two students from Meharry Medical College were selected to participate: Ms. Jodi-Anne Stewart and Ms. Brittany Landry. In addition to their eight-week research experience with their primary mentor, under the supervision of John Phillips, Professor of Pediatrics, they also participated in weekly Underdiagnosed Disease weekly patient sessions as part of the Underdiagnosed Disease NIH sponsored Network.
Stewart worked in the Vanderbilt Meharry Sickle Cell Disease Center of Excellence. She focused on understanding the relationship between low body mass index and lung function patterns in children with sickle disease. Shaina Willen, M.D., third-year pediatric hematology oncology fellow, co-mentored her with Dr. DeBaun. Stewart will be presenting a poster of her work in the spring. Her experience was so positive that she is strongly considering applying to the one-year research fellowships to continue research in the Center.
Landry worked under the mentorship of Dr. Zachary Warren, Ph.D., and Dr. Amy Weilauf, Ph.D., at Vanderbilt's Treatment and Research institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Her project, as part of a larger initiative, was focused on testing a novel way for physician extenders to provide diagnostic assessments for ASD in primary care settings. The team assessed the feasibility and accuracy of a companion tool for determining risk status based on approximately 15 minutes of videotaped observation. The hope is that developing this rating scale will help naïve coders make clinical ratings of ASD risk during the types of activities often present in pediatric office visits. Preliminary data generated from this project supported the primary hypothesis. Landry plans to submit the results of her summer experience at pediatric research conferences for review in the next year.