Research Festival Showcases Innovative Projects

Pathways to Discovery Dean's Prize Winners (from left): Rebecca Miller, Sam Bronfield, Mala Mandyam, Jason Nagata, Jennifer Rosenbaum. Photo by Elisabeth Fall.

The academic endeavors and innovative research that distinguish UC San Francisco were on display earlier this month at the 12th annual Inter-School Research and Scholarly Activity Festival, which continues to encourage and showcase the renowned scope of innovative research and academic endeavors that distinguishes UCSF.

The interdisciplinary festival, which ran May 4-14, has been so successful that it expanded this year from four to seven days. The festival was coordinated by the Clinical and Translational Science Research Program (CTRFP) of UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), and wide-ranging events were sponsored by a cross-section of the campus community, including Pathways to Discovery, a University program that offers students an opportunity to take a year off to do research while providing them with career training and mentorship.

“The Pathways to Discovery Symposium celebrates the research and scholarship work of students and residents in all of UCSF'S professional schools,” said Louise Aronson, MD, director of the Pathways program.

Among the festival highlights was the Pathways to Discovery Symposium and Awards, followed by Posterpalooza, a showcase of scientific posters that drew more than 275 faculty, students and community members.

The Pathways to Discovery Dean’s Prize winners – one from each the five pathway programs – presented their scholarship ranging from the “Pocket Health Protector” mobile app to an overview of health outcomes of a food prescription program for adults living with HIV in Kenya.

The event also honored a Mentor of the Year, awarded this year to Scott Kogan, MD, a professor from the School of Medicine. Presenters expressed gratitude to their research mentors and highlighted the benefits of participating in the Pathways program during their research year off.

“I started out in medical school interested in cardiology, and advisors recommended that I explore clinical research. I connected with my mentor, Gregory Marcus, through the Clinical and Translational Research Pathway website and later on through the resources at CTSI and the Advanced Training in Clinical Research program, which provided a structured way to learn how to approach a research project, analyze it and present it,” said Mala Mandyam, the Dean’s Prize winner for the CTR Pathway and a 2011-2012 CTRFP fellow.

“I gained a lot from the practical skills approach to any research problem, networking with people at all different levels and sites, and learning about all the resources available from statistics to various mentoring programs,” Mandyam added.

Posters, Pods & Presentations

Jonathan Hurng, a second year at the School of Dentistry (SOD) presenting at Posterpalooza. Photo by David Hand.

The energy from the Pathways symposium carried over to the poster sessions at Posterpalooza, which showcased the breadth of research by students –  clinical and translational, global health, health and society, molecular medicine, health and education pathway – and provides a forum for the diversity of schools.

This year, 116 students presented a total of 110 posters in rotation “pods” with 21 faculty members facilitating the poster question and answers sessions.

“We broke down the division of schools so that people could come together clustered around their own interests by discipline, theme or topic,” said Peter Chin Hong, MD, MAS, associate director of CTSI’s CTRFP and associate professor at the School of Medicine. “Fortunately, there’s a movement at the University to bring all these schools together to work in teams to improve people’s health. We can’t just have silos in our various schools.”

Gradual improvements to Posterpalooza from lessons over the years have made it a popular and highly interactive event.

“In the past, I think presenters felt like car salesmen. You’d be in front of your poster, people would pass by and you’d try to grab them to come and listen to your story,” Chin-Hong said. “Now you have an audience who’s invested in hearing the whole story from start to end with less discontinuity.”

An Evening of Resident Research

The 6th annual CTSI Resident Clinical and Translational Research Symposium included an overview of the Resident Research Training Program (RRTP) from Emily von Scheven, MD, co-director of the program, and a welcome message from Sam Hawgood, MBBS, dean of the School of Medicine. The Mentor of the Year award went to Beth Cohen, MD, MAS, an assistant professor in residence.

“This tremendously successful event brings residents together across departments and campuses to present their research in a multi-disciplinary venue,” said von Scheven.

Five residents, selected from 34 proposers, presented oral papers, and a poster session included 24 resident poster presentations from programs across campus. Many residents were presenting for the first time and had the opportunity to exchange ideas with peers and mentors.

Rushi V. Parikh, MD, an Internal Medicine resident giving an oral paper presentation during the Clinical & Translational Resident Research Symposium. Photo by Christian Leiva.
“The symposium offered a great opportunity to present my research in a formal way via an oral presentation. CTSI has also been a tremendous resource for my research endeavors throughout residency,” said Rushi Parikh, MD, a resident physician in the Department of Internal Medicine who shared his investigation into the mechanism of HIV-associated cardiovascular disease.

CTSI’s CTRFP coordinated events under the leadership of Joel Palefsky, MD, director of CTRFP and the creator of the 12-year-old festival. CTRFP received additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the UCSF School of Medicine, and PROF-PATH.

The events in the festival were sponsored by Pathways to Discovery, CTRFP, UCSF Graduate Division along with San Francisco State University, UCSF’s School of MedicineSchool of Pharmacy, School of Nursing, School of Dentistry, and Nursing Honor Society (Posterpalooza).

View the official program guide to learn more about other festival events.

UCSF's CTSI is a member of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards network funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (grant Number UL1 TR000004) at the National Institutes of Health. Under the banner of "Accelerating Research to Improve Health," CTSI provides a wide range of resources and services for researchers, and promotes online collaboration and networking tools such as UCSF Profiles.

Article also at