Patient Screening to Scientific Communication, Undergrads Share Research

UCLA undergraduate students from the CTSI Research Associates Program (CTSI-RAP) and the CTSI Communication of Science Program were among the 640 students who participated in the UCLA Undergraduate Research Poster Day at Pauley Pavilion recently. 

CTSI-RAP's poster highlighted the program's recent work on studies of pelvic prolapse repair, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), sport-related concussions, and health care associated infections. Student tasks included patient screening, administering questionnaires and collection of baseline data.  

The poster from the Communication of Science students examined the readability of scientific publications. Using readability software, students compared award-winning abstracts from the 2014 Undergraduate Research Poster Day to abstracts of the corresponding publications. Published abstracts were easier to read; students said wordsmithing by journal editors might explain the results.

CTSI-RAP students Dzung Maria Nguyen and Shreya Patel and Science Communication students Amjad Murdos and Meghan Hodges also presented their research projects to the CTSI leadership.

CTSI-RAP aims to provide students with the opportunity to gain exposure to hospital based medicine as well as clinical research in an academic medical center. The program is designed to build a stronger support infrastructure for the research initiatives of UCLA faculty physicians and investigators. Students also have the opportunity to take on leadership roles and have patient encounters. 

While involved in clinical research studies, students develop their interpersonal skills through routine, direct patient encounters. In addition, students can acquire leadership skills as a student coordinator, study liaison, or social coordinator. "The students step up and out of their comfort zone throughout their tenure in the program," Dr. Laurie Shaker-Irwin, clinical research advisor for the program, said.  
Since its inception in 2013, 42 students have been accepted into the CTSI-RAP program.

CTSI-RAP alumni have been accepted to medical school, graduate school, and other health professional schools.  Several CTSI-RAP students have gone on to publish research with their faculty mentors including Daniel Kadden, former UCLA undergraduate (now entering medical school).Kadden was instrumental in performing data collection, cleaning, and interpretation for a project on the feasibility of continuous actigraphy in medical intensive care unit patients, and he was also helpful in making edits to the project manuscript, which will appear in the American Journal of Critical Care. The research was led by his faculty mentor, Dr. Biren Kamdar, assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UCLA. Another CTSI-RAP student assistant, Nikita Mathew, was also helpful and was acknowledged in the paper.

The Communication of Science Program, which started in spring 2016, trains students to translate research for the general public. In addition to doing a research project, students wrote articles for the CTSI website. Amjad Murdos's article is here; Meghan Hodges's article is here.

CTSI-RAP and Communication of Science programs are "Pipeline Programs" intended to engage young people in scientific research to kindle their interest in biomedical research and set them on a path toward a research career. CTSI supports pipeline programs that provide students with hands-on, mentored experiences assisting with clinical research, preparing scientific communications?such as presentations and journal articles?and conducting science experiments. Visit CTSI High School & Undergraduate Programs, for more information about CTSI-supported pipeline programs, and information about hiring work-study undergraduate students for on-campus and off-campus jobs, including those related to research. 

Jessica Castillo is the CTSI's Web Editor

Further reading:

Image caption: UCLA undergraduate, Amjad Murdos, presents a CTSI Communication of Science Program project at the 2016 UCLA Undergraduate Research Poster Day

Image source: