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VUSM student’s research poster lauded at international meeting

Aug. 4, 2016, 9:37 AM

A Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) student recently received international recognition when his poster presentation at a major infectious diseases conference was voted the best from among 600 presenters and 1,500 attendees.

Fourth-year medical student Roger Fan presented his research at the 10th International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases (ISPPD-10), which was held in Glasgow, Scotland, in June.

School of Medicine student Roger Fan, left, with his research mentor, Carlos Grijalva, M.D., MPH.
School of Medicine student Roger Fan, left, with his research mentor, Carlos Grijalva, M.D., MPH.

His presentation was based on research he conducted during his research immersion in the third year of medical school exploring the relationship between nasopharyngeal pneumococcal densities and acute respiratory illnesses in young children.

Working with his primary research mentor, Carlos Grijalva, M.D. MPH, Fan and others involved in the study analyzed data from a prospective cohort of young Peruvian children to examine nasopharyngeal pneumococcal density patterns surrounding acute respiratory illness. Their data demonstrated that nasopharyngeal pneumococcal density was dynamic surrounding episodes of acute respiratory diseases. Pneumococcal density began to increase prior to the onset of respiratory symptoms, peaked during symptomatic disease and decreased after symptoms subsided.

“We are very proud of Roger’s accomplishment. He has worked very hard on his research project while maintaining his characteristic enthusiasm, positive attitude and attention to details,” said Grijalva, who is also director of PLAN, a School of Medicine course that helps students develop and execute a structured research protocol.

“It was really a pleasure for our group to work with Roger and see him develop the project and then present his work at the conference. Presenting research findings before an expert international audience can be very intimidating, but Roger did a terrific job.”

“It was very shocking to be selected and called up on that stage when most presenters at the conference were well-established researchers. Most people there were Ph.D.s or M.D.s, and I’m just a medical student,” said Fan, who is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “I was a bit anxious about speaking in front of all those experts, but the support and training I received from my research team had prepared me well for the challenge. This has been a wonderful and very rewarding experience.”

Other Vanderbilt faculty involved in the study include Leigh Howard, M.D., MPH, Kathryn Edwards M.D., Yuwei Zhu, M.D. M.Sc., Marie Griffin M.D., MPH, and Claudio Lanata, M.D., MPH.

ISPPD is a biennial global scientific symposium that brings together scientific, clinical and public health experts, practitioners and students to present, discuss, challenge and learn from the latest work and advancements on the study of Streptococcus pneumoniae and pneumococcal diseases.

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