May 21, 2004

Student awarded AOA research fellowship

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Donna Vleugels

Student awarded AOA research fellowship

First-year medical student Donna Vleugels received one of 50 nationwide Alpha Omega Alpha Research Fellowships.

The medical honor society awards are designed to foster interest in research among medical students.

Vleugels’ research project will look specifically at mitochondrial DNA mutations and their role in Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma.

“Mitochondrial DNA mutations have been linked to several types of cancer,” Vleugels said. “Because mitochondria play a key role in energy production and the apoptotic pathway in cells, they are of particular interest.”

Vleugels will conduct her research under the guidance of James Sligh, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine.

“Donna is a highly motivated student who is very deserving of this opportunity.  She showed great initiative in applying for the Alpha Omega Alpha award.  She has a very bright future ahead of her in academic medicine,” Sligh said.

“I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and owe a lot of gratitude to Dr. Sligh. He has been extremely helpful in this process and is a wonderful mentor,” Vleugels said. “The research opportunities available to medical students at Vanderbilt are amazing, and my involvement in this project has given me the goal to make research a vital part of my future.”

Vleugels said she hopes her project will spark future interest and clinical advances in the treatment of Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma.