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June 14, 2017 - USA Medical Student Benjamin McCormick Receives AOA Research Fellowship
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McCormickAOA.jpgBenjamin McCormick, a rising second-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently received the Alpha Omega Alpha 2017 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship.

The $5,000 award provides research support for medical students to conduct research via clinical investigation, basic laboratory work, epidemiology, social sciences, health services, leadership or professionalism.

McCormick will be conducting his clinical investigation at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn., in the division of hematology and oncology. Dr. Bipin N. Savani, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University and director of the Long-Term Stem Cell Transplant Clinic, will serve as his primary mentor.

His research will explore the effects of matching a donor and recipient’s blood types on stem cell transplant success using various outcome parameters. Each day, McCormick and Dr. Savani will collect patient information for analysis from the Long-Term Stem Cell Transplant Clinic, as well as assemble information collected from previous patients. “I will then use various statistical methods to determine the specific outcome determinants for the population under study,” McCormick said. “These results will be presented at weekly group meetings and will culminate in me writing a manuscript for publication.”

According to McCormick, there are no large studies comparing outcomes for ABO mismatch in hematopoietic stem cell transplants. “Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or bone marrow transplantation, is a common treatment option for leukemia, lymphomas and other immunological disorders,” he said. “My research is important because the results of this study will provide information for transplant physicians to improve survival and graft outcomes in their patients. It is proposed that major mismatches may predispose patients to graft failure.”

Although he has a master’s degree in chemistry and an extensive background in basic science research, McCormick said this will be his first exposure to clinically based medical research. He credits the extensive coverage of hematologic malignancies in the first-year curriculum and the weekly patient encounters through the clinical skills program at the USA College of Medicine for preparing him for this project.

“This will be an incredible opportunity for me to explore the realm of clinical research and potential career interests,” McCormick said. “I have been interested in hematology and oncology for many years after witnessing my father’s struggle with cancer, and Dr. Savani was one of his most impactful doctors. I look forward to exploring the field of stem cell transplant research from an academic research perspective and learning how patient outcome data and patient-doctor interactions impact future medical treatment.”

Each medical school with an AOA chapter can nominate one first-, second-, or third-year medical student for the fellowship. Each year, AOA allocates funds for about 50 awards. The name of the fellowship program honors Carolyn L. Kuckein, long-time administrator of AOA and an honorary member of the society, who died in 2004. To learn more, click here.

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