Professor Supports Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Student Research Projects Through Endowment | VTX

Four students at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) received summer fellowships through an endowment created by Charles J. Schleupner, professor of internal medicine at the school and infectious disease physician at the Carilion Clinic. This is the second year that the awards have been presented.

“It’s all in the name of advancing knowledge,” said Schleupner, who also sits on the VTCSOM Dean’s Council on Advancement. “Whether students go on to pursue careers to conduct research or at least know how to evaluate research published in academic journals, being able to do so effectively is critically important to what medicine is – the science of medicine.”

In pursuit of its mission to create the next generation of thought-leading physicians, the school emphasizes discipline research in his course. Students are required to complete a four-year, hypothesis-based, publishable-quality project. Research time is built into the curriculum, making the school one of the few in the country to place so much emphasis on student research.

Many students admitted to VTCSOM cite the research program as one of the main reasons they chose the school. In fact, each member of the Class of 2025 averaged over 3,000 hours of research before signing up for VTCSOM.

VTCSOM provides funding to support each student’s research activities, but funds are limited. Most student research requires additional support, which can come from grants or scholarships like this one. Additionally, the money provides stipends for students who wish to conduct research during the summer.

The four scholarship recipients, each a member of the class of 2025, are:

Farwah Iqbal |

Project: Understanding the dialogue between macrophages and smooth muscle cells in the development of vascular disease.

Research Mentor: Scott Johnstone, Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and Department of Biological Sciences.

In his words: I am grateful to receive this award and delighted that the reviewers saw the potential in our research objectives. Research has never been a job for me but it is my passion. Investigating why cells behave the way they do during pathology and how we can design drugs or cell therapies to bring them back online is something I am dedicated to. This award will support my research goals both academically and personally. I look forward to sharing exciting updates.

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Project: Low intensity focused ultrasound for insular neuromodulation in complex regional pain syndrome.

Research Mentor: Wynn Legon, Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and School of Neuroscience.

In his words: I am grateful to have this opportunity which encourages me to continue my research project and advance knowledge in the hope of helping people suffering from chronic pain.

Liliana Ladner

Project: Neurovascular markers and inflammatory predictors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) outcomes across the age spectrum.

Research mentors: Michelle Theus, Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Co-Director Master in Translational Biology Medicine and Healthand Eric Marvin, assistant professor, surgery, VTCSOM, and neurosurgery, Carilion Clinic.

In his words: No one plans to suffer a head injury. Because of this unpredictable nature, I knew my project would require a commitment to spend the summer in Roanoke, recruit patients at all hours of the day or night, and begin experimentation on patient samples in the lab. Dr. Schleupner’s gift makes this possible, allowing me to bridge basic and clinical science to improve the lives of TBI patients.

Erin McDaid

Project: Identification of new therapeutic targets for PI3K-independent glioblastoma.

Research Mentor: Zhi Sheng, Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

In his words: My work with the Sheng lab focuses on discovering therapeutic targets that could serve as new treatment options for people with brain cancer. There is a lot of spectacular work done by my colleagues. I feel humbled and honored to receive the Schleupner Prize, and am excited about the work it will allow me to do, not just this summer, but the domino effect it will create in preparing me to be productive during the busy school year.

Learn more about the Charles J. Schleupner Endowment.


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