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2013 Postgraduate Award winners

In 2011, the board of directors of Alpha Omega Alpha estab- lished the Postgraduate Award to encourage and support AΩA residents or fellows from programs or institutions with an active AΩA chapter or association to pursue a project in the spirit of the AΩA mission statement. Project applications were accepted in the categories of:

  1. Research: Support for clinical investigation, basic labora- tory research, epidemiology, or social science/health services research.
  2. Service: Local or international service work, focusing on underprivileged or immigrant populations or those in the developing world, as well as patient and population education projects.
  3. Teaching and education: Research, development, or implementation of education academic curricula, with the focus on postgraduate education.
  4. Leadership: Leadership development.
  5. Humanism and professionalism: Projects designed to encourage understanding, development, and retention of traits of humanism and professionalism among physicians, directed to physicians in postgraduate training.

Nine applicants received $2000 awards to support their work.

The recipients of the 2013 awards are:


N. Teresa Bleakly, MD (AΩA, University of Washington, 2008)
Stanford University School of Medicine
Project category: Research
Cardiac function in malnourished children: an observational study in an urban hospital in Bangladesh
Yvonne Maldonado, MD, mentor


Christine Dinh, MD (AΩA, University of Miami, 2008)
University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
Project category: Research
Effects of dexamethasone on cisplatin ototoxicity in vitro
Thomas Van De Water, PhD, mentor

Backgound: Cisplatin is a chemotherapeutic agent used in the treatment of solid organ tumors such as those seen in head and neck, ovarian, testicular, cervical, and lung malignancies. This drug can produce dose-limiting, bilateral, and often irreversible hearing loss in a majority of patients. Currently, there is no treatment for the prevention of cisplatin ototoxicity, which occurs in 75-100% of patients that receive cisplatin chemotherapy1. The molecular mechanisms associated with cisplatin ototoxicity include generation of reactive oxygen species, activation of NAPDH oxidase 3 (NOX-3), and production of inflammatory cytokines such as TNFα, which can initiate caspase activation, breakdown of DNA, and apoptosis of auditory HCs1. There are several therapeutic drugs that can protect against cisplatin-induced hearing loss; however, these agents are given systemically and can interact with the chemotherapeutic properties of cisplatin and affect cancer survival....

Click to read the complete final report


Adam Gepner, MD (AΩA, University of Wisconsin, 2009)
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Project category: Research
Ultrasound Assessment of Carotid Arterial Stiffness with Speckle Tracking: A New Use of a Novel Imaging Technique for Evaluating Arterial Stiffness in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
James H. Stein, MD, mentor

Summary: Cardiovascular disease imposes a significant public health burden in terms of morbidity, mortality and societal costs. Velocity vector imaging is a non-invasive ultrasound technique that uses a two-dimensional speckle tracking algorithm to calculate longitudinal displacement and velocity of the carotid artery and could be used to further risk stratify patients without known cardiovascular disease. Carotid ultrasound images from subjects in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) will be used to validate this new technique in a large, diverse, cohort and allow us to determine associations with cardiovascular risk factors and compare these measurements to more traditional assessments of arterial stiffness.


Rachel Issaka, MD (AΩA, Northwestern University, 2013)
Northwestern University The Feinberg SChool of Medicine
Project category: Service
Developing and implementing a community based program to increase colorectal cancer screening
Rajesh Keswani, MD, mentor


Brenessa Lindeman, MD (AΩA, Vanderbilt University, 2009)
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Project category: Teaching and education
Cognitive Task Analysis to Identify and Assess Development of Competency in Decision-Making and Error Avoidance in Surgical Trainees
Pamela Lipsett, MD, MHPE, mentor


Victoria Mui, MD (AΩA, Jefferson Medical College, 2011)
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Project category: Service
Implementation of a Teaching Program for Midwives in Rural Guatemala and Its Impact on Postgraduate Global Health Education
Amr Madkour, MD, mentor
Project Summary
Read Dr. Mui's blog about her project!


Peter Stanich, MD (AΩA, University of Toledo, 2008)
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Project category: Research
Video capsule endoscopy completion and association with physical activity
Marty M. Meyer, MD, mentor

Summary: Video capsule endoscopy (VCE) consists of a swallowed capsule that wirelessly transmits images over an 8 hour battery lifespan. Although it is the best tool to evaluate the small bowel, complete examination occurs in only 83% of cases. It is theorized that the level of physical activity during the test relates to completion through an effect on bowel motility. My study will formally assess this by prospectively measuring physical activity by pedometer in patients undergoing VCE and correlate it with completed studies and other measures. Depending on the results of this study, I am hopeful this will provide guidance to create an intervention for a randomized clinical trial based on a goal activity level.


Talia Swartz, MD (AΩA, Mount Sinai, 2011)
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Project category: Research
HIV infection and inflammasome activation
Benjamin Chen, MD, mentor

Summary: HIV infection is a major cause of morbidity and mortality as chronic infection has been associated with premature aging that is thought to be due to inflammation. These sequelae include risk for heart disease, cancer, bone disease, and cognitive decline. Our studies focus on the role of purinergic signaling on mucosal HIV infection. Purinergic signaling detects extracellular nucleotides, specifically ATP. We and others have demonstrated that purinergic inhibition causes potent inhibition of HIV infection and preliminary studies suggest inflammasome activation in gut tissues. In this project we will investigate the role purinergic signaling and inflammasome activation in HIV infection.


Kija Weldon, MD (AΩA, University of Iowa, 2010)
University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
Research category: Research
Late-Life Cognitive Outcomes in Schizophrenia: Does Treatment with Antipsychotic Medicines Protect from Alzheimer’s Disease
Susan Schultz, MD, mentor

Back to Postgraduate Award Home

Updated on December 23, 2014.


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