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Jessica Morris (left) and Milan Sheth are among 13 graduate students in Eastern Mennonite University's MA in Biomedicine program to defend their theses in December. Morris, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, is exploring career paths as a medical doctor or in medical research. Sheth, of Houston, Texas, is interested in emergency medicine. (Photos by Andrew Strack)

Record number of MA in biomedicine students defend original research

A record-high number of second-year graduate students in the MA in Biomedicine program at Eastern Mennonite University successfully defended their theses in December. The 13 presentations were made in one day which stretched from early in the morning to late in the afternoon.

“Students learn an incredible amount by taking a research project from start to finish,” said Dr. Julia Halterman, who co-directs the program with Dr. Carolyn Stauffer. “As they enter their final semester here at EMU, many are applying to medical school or other professional health schools, and their research projects give them an important and unique experience that sets them apart from other applicants.”

Jessica Morris, second-year graduate student in EMU's MA in biomedicine program, researched the Affordable Care Act and its impact on Shenandoah Valley residents falling into the "coverage gap."
Jessica Morris, second-year graduate student in EMU’s MA in biomedicine program, researched the Affordable Care Act and its impact on Shenandoah Valley residents falling into the “coverage gap.”

Since 2013, the MA in Biomedicine program has helped 27 graduates prepare for careers as health professionals. The research project is an important and distinctive curricular challenge, bringing students together with faculty advisors and community mentors as they develop and conduct original research.

“EMU’s Biomedicine program provides students with the opportunity to conduct research that is original and hypothesis-driven,” says Stauffer. “This equips each student with a unique niche that they can optimally leverage when applying for professional health schools. Original research opens doors and can make all the difference as a springboard for a student’s future.”

Jessica Morris hopes to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine or earn a PhD in medical scientific research. Milan Sheth is most interested in the field of emergency medicine. The research project offered the opportunity to delve into topics relevant to their career goals.

Morris, a George Mason University graduate, investigated the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Shenandoah Valley residents falling into the “coverage gap” created by Virginia’s limited Medicaid benefits.

She came away with a new knowledge of the objectivity required to conduct research, a healthy skepticism about media coverage of health issues and how that affects patient knowledge.

Sheth, an Ohio State University graduate who is interested in emergency medicine, researched the factors involved in responses of patients undergoing rapid induction of a common anesthetic, ketamine.

Milan Sheth researched factors involved in response of patients undergoing rapid induction of the anesthetic ketamine.
Milan Sheth researched factors involved in response of patients undergoing rapid induction of the anesthetic ketamine.

His research has specific applications for first responders and other medical personnel, who need identify patients who may be most susceptible to potential adverse effects associated with rapid sequence intubation of ketamine.

He says he’s gained new skills, such as identifying relevant published research and interpreting statistical results, and a new appreciation for the impact of clinical research on patient treatment. “I have a deeper appreciation for researchers and the dedication they put forth towards finding breakthroughs and cures,” he added. “My passion for medicine continues to grow and this project solidified my purpose for entering the healthcare field.”

Student research

A comprehensive list of researchers, their projects and committee members follows:

 Nkem Asianua: “African American’s/African’s Awareness of Their Increased Risk of ACE Inhibitor Induced Angioedema in Ventura County, Ca.” Committee members: Professors Esther Tian and Greta Ann Herin.

Lujain Binyahya: “An Analysis of Patient Experience at Sentara-RMH.” Committee members: Professor Carolyn Stauffer, Steve Nelson.

Sanjay Dick: “Felis Catus and Chronic Renal Disease: A Comparison of Clinical Treatments Found at Rural and Urban Animal Hospitals in Southeastern Pennsylvania.” Committee members: Professor Tara Kishbaugh and Jennifer Lyle, D.V.M.

 From left: Second-year MA in Biomedicine students pose for a photo at the end of fall semester 2016: Melody Nyoni, program co-director and professor Carolyn Stauffer, Chanel Sampson, Sanjay Dick, Nkem Asianua, Alex Hetrick, Ben Stern, Ruchir Shah, Milan Sheth, Nikita Patel, Jessica Simms Morris, Noor Qureshi, program co-director and professor Julia Halterman, Shanae Scott. Not shown: Lujain Binyahya.
From left: Second-year MA in Biomedicine students pose for a photo at the end of fall semester 2016: Melody Nyoni, program co-director and professor Carolyn Stauffer, Chanel Sampson, Sanjay Dick, Nkem Asianua, Alex Hetrick, Ben Stern, Ruchir Shah, Milan Sheth, Nikita Patel, Jessica Simms Morris, Noor Qureshi, program co-director and professor Julia Halterman, Shanae Scott. Not shown: Lujain Binyahya.

Alexandar Hetrick: “Student Influenza Vaccination Rate and Risk of Infectious Disease at Eastern Mennonite University.” Committee members: Professors Carolyn Stauffer and Jeffrey Copeland.

Jessica Morris: “Reforming Health Care: The Impacts of The Affordable Care Act on the Health Insurance Status of Individuals Residing in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.” Committee members: Professors Kim Brenneman and Jenni Holsinger.

Melody Nyoni: “Examination of STI awareness among transitioning youth in the Valley Youth House (VYH) Program in Allentown, Pa.” Committee members: Professor Kim Brenneman, Elizabeth Allen.

Nikita Patel: “The Value of Time and Patient Satisfaction during Physician-Patient Visits in Central Virginia.” Committee members: Professors Carolyn Stauffer and Ann Hershberger.

 Noor Qureshi: “Mental Health Attitudes in the Dallas Pakistani Community.” Committee members: Professors Jeffrey Copeland and Gregory Koop.

Chanel Sampson: “Possible Risk Factors of Uterine Fibroids Evaluated through a Self-Assessment of Symptom Severity.” Committee members: Professors Greta Ann Herin and Cathy Rittenhouse.

Shanae Scott: “Routine Eye Exams and Awareness of Ocular Disease Associated with Diabetes in Harrisonburg, Va.” Committee members: Professors Esther Tian and Tara Kishbaugh.

Ruchir Shah: “Determining the Link Between Smile Symmetry and Character Perception at Eastern Mennonite University.” Committee members: Professors Gregory Koop and Ann Hershberger.

Milan Sheth: “Ketamine-induced Changes in Blood Pressure and Heart Rate in Pre-hospital Intubated Patients.” Committee members: Professors Daniel Showalter and Matthew Siderhurst.

Benjamin Stern: “Essential Competencies for the Rural American Doctor.“ Committee members: Professor Kim Brenneman and Randall Longenecker, MD.

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