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VUSM student lands coveted cardiovascular research fellowship

Apr. 25, 2013, 9:07 AM

A Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student is among 13 individuals nationwide to receive a Sarnoff Foundation Medical Student Research Fellowship award for 2013-2014.

Third-year student Sina Salehi Omran has accepted the fellowship, which offers opportunities for outstanding medical students to explore careers in cardiovascular research. Sarnoff fellows conduct intensive work in a U.S. research laboratory for one year, but the program makes a lifetime commitment to their fellows. A member of the Scientific Committee guides the fellow during the research year and throughout the fellow’s career.

Sina Salehi Omran

“This is truly an honor for Sina, as well as Vanderbilt University School of Medicine,” said Doug Sawyer, M.D., Ph.D., Lisa M. Jacobson Professor of Medicine. “The Sarnoff Foundation is a great organization that has played a major role in stimulating the interest of medical students in cardiovascular science for the past 30 years.”

As a Sarnoff fellow, Omran will take a year off between his third and fourth years of medical school to work in a leading cardiovascular research lab in the United States. He will visit labs around the country and make his final decision in the next few months.

“My research interest is how rare variation in the human genome affects cardiac function. Each of us has millions of rare variants in our genome, yet we do not know what, if anything, most of these mutations do,” Omran said. “With the rising prevalence of heart failure, the urgency of finding out what these variants do and how they predict an individual’s response to therapy becomes ever more important. In doing so, we can further the dream of personalized medicine.”

The Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation was started by the estate of Stanley Sarnoff, M.D., a world-renowned cardiovascular physiologist, who wanted to promote research opportunities for the most promising medical students in order to entice them into the field of cardiovascular research.

“Sarnoff created a model that has been very successful. Many exceptional physician-scientists began their careers as Sarnoff Fellows, including several Vanderbilt physician-scientists,” said H. Scott Baldwin, M.D., chief of Pediatric Cardiology at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and recent past-chair of the Scientific Board of the Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation.

The Sarnoff Foundation recruits leaders in cardiovascular medicine from major research universities throughout the United States to select and mentor promising investigators throughout their careers. Vanderbilt has extensive involvement with the Sarnoff Foundation, including Charles Hong, M.D., and Nancy Brown, M.D., who are currently members of the board of directors.

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