A year later, AMA Research Challenge finalists see impact

Medical students and residents can help contribute to the health of the nation in the areas of clinical care and scientific research. This is the basis for the AMA Research Challenge, the largest multidisciplinary national research event for medical students, residents, fellows, and international medical alumni. The challenge offers young and aspiring clinicians an opportunity to present their research to an important stage.

The 2021 AMA Research Challenge Finals, which will be broadcast on YouTube December 8, will feature a group of five finalists – three medical students and two residents, including an international medical graduate – submitting their research posters to a panel of four Expert judges. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 from sponsor Laurel Road.

Before the 2021 event kicks off, the finalists from last year’s event gave an update on where they work and their careers.

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How has your experience as a participant in the AMA Research Challenge affected your career?

Eli B. Levitt, a fourth-year medical student at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim School of Medicine: “The project helped me realize my passion for medical education research. Medicine is changing very rapidly, and medical education is in a position to constantly adapt to account for the strongest evidence. I hope to remain involved in academic medicine and orthopedics throughout my career.”

It was Levitt’s interest in medical student fatigue and contributing factors to the poster presentation—“higher emotional intelligence correlates with lower medical student fatigue in a clinical year”—which earned Levitt a place in the AMA Research Challenge.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from interacting with arbitrators?

Shamsh Sheikh, fourth-year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine: “I think Dr. Clyde Yancey’s comments were the most inspiring, because he clearly recognized the potential implications of our research to influence public policy around what many would define as the ‘e-cigarette epidemic’. For example, in recent years we have witnessed the sudden and critical emergence of respiratory illnesses that have emerged in Children exposed to counterfeit e-cigarette products.

Elder’s interest in the functioning of the heart and how it might be affected by the rise in e-cigarette use among younger Americans encouraged the creation of a presentation—“The Effect of Pod-Based E-Cigarettes on Endothelial Cell Phenotype: Preliminary Results”—on the topic. The work earned him a place as a co-winner at the event.

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What comes next for you on the research front? Victoria Danan, a third-year medical student at the Charles E. Schmidt School of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University: Our research was about the allocation of scarce resources during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wrote it as part of a larger article and hope to be able to publish it soon. It inspired me to pursue other research opportunities in various fields and not be afraid to apply to various conferences.”

Given a possible worst-case scenario during an unprecedented pandemic, Project Dunnan – “Winning the Ventilator Lottery: A Comparison of Five Protocols for Allocating Scarce Resources in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic” – examined the limitations of ventilator systems faced by hospitals, using published research About the Rare Research Allocation Protocol. She was one of the winners of the 2020 Challenge.

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