Twenty-six Upstate medical students elected to honor society

Twenty-six members of Upstate’s College of Medicine Class of 2015 have been elected as members of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

AOA, a professional medical organization founded in 1902, advocates for excellence in scholarship and the highest ideals of the medical profession.

The top 25 percent of a medical school class is eligible for nomination to the society, and up to 16 percent may be elected based on leadership, character, community service and professionalism, according to the AOA.

Upstate’s Alpha Omega Alpha members from the Class of 2015

Thomas Franzon

Thomas Franzon, president

David Bae, Matthew Basciotta, Madalene Boyle, Erica Brenner, Patrick Chambers;

Matthew Chiarello, Jeremy Di Bari, Sarah Evans, Thomas Franzon (president);

Ashley Grimshaw, Jamal Hajjari, Michael Hessenauer, Colm Kelleher;

Brian Ruhle

Brian Ruhle, vice president

Robert Kribs, Kamran Munawar, James Prezzano, Brian Ruhle (vice president), Matthew Siegenthaler, Michael Siegenthaler;

Brian Smerkers, Rachelle St. Onge, Zachary Telgheder, Ryan Van Nostrand, Corey Vasisko, Alyson Weiner, Justin Zelenka.


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MD/PhD student presents research at national conference

SUNY Upstate MD/PhD program

Scott Minchenberg, a student in Upstate's MD/PhD program, was among 18 students nationwide selected to give an oral presentation at the annual MD/PhD Student Conference in Colorado.

Upstate’s Scott Minchenberg was one of only 18 students selected to give an oral presentation at the 29th annual MD/PhD Student Conference in Keystone, Colo.

Scott is in the lab of Professor Paul Massa, PhD, researching the role of a protein in multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease affecting the central nervous system.

Multiple sclerosis is characterized by the destruction of myelin, the insulating layer or sheath of proteins and fat around nerves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which affects signals to the brain and spinal cord.

SUNY Upstate MD/PhD prorgam

Upstate MD/PhD student Scott Minchenberg

The Massa Lab project could eventually lead to therapies for the disease. “We have the potential of better understanding the underlying mechanisms of MS,” Scott said.

At the conference in Colorado, Scott gave an oral presentation on his research and talked with MD/PhD students from all over the country. He also met University of Washington professor Mary-Claire King, PhD, the researcher who discovered the BRCA gene linked to some breast cancers.

Scott graduated from Hofstra University on his native Long Island in 2011 and came to Upstate that fall. Like other MD/PhD students, he completed the first two years of the medical school curriculum before entering the three-year PhD phase of the program.

“After I got here, I was amazed by the camaraderie among the students, just how close-knit and helpful everyone is,” Scott said.

A highlight of the MD/PhD program, Scott said, is the one-on-one attention from Principal Investigators. “They’re approachable, and are always available to offer valuable guidance,” he said. “The MD/PhD program is unique. It’s such a small group, and it definitely has a family feel.”

As an undergraduate at Hofstra, Scott was a firefighter and EMT, but he has since allowed his EMT certification to lapse to concentrate on medical school. Away from the lab and the classroom, he’s “embracing” the Upstate New York life – skiing, hiking and other outdoor winter activities.

Scott said his career plan is undecided, but most likely will lead him to academic medicine somewhere in the Tri-State area.

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Physical Therapy students give a lift to Samaritan Center

SUNY Upstate Physical Therapy Samaritan Center

Students in Upstate's Doctor of Physical Therapy program host a food drive Nov. 3-21 to benefit the Samaritan Center.

Last year’s inaugural holiday food drive by students in Upstate’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program was such a success, they’re doing it again.

The 2013 effort brought in more than 400 pounds of food and $400 in gift cards, and students want to do better in 2014. The beneficiary this year is the Samaritan Center, a downtown Syracuse not-for-profit that feeds hundreds of people every day in the basement of a church.

“A few of the first-year students said they’ve volunteered there, so that’s how it came about,” said organizer Lauren Shirley, a second-year DPT student.

Collection boxes will be placed on campus Monday, and the drive continues through Nov. 21. Non-perishable food items (but please check the expiration dates) and other goods are welcomed. See the poster below for a list of specific items needed.

Drop boxes will be in the Health Sciences Library in Weiskotten Hall; Geneva Tower; Silverman Hall; the “bridge” linking Upstate University Hospital with the east parking garage, and the Pathology department on the sixth floor of the hospital.

SUNY DPT food drive


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Upstate graduate student earns four-year fellowship

SUNY Upstate College of Graduate Studies

Arturo Barbachano-Guerrero, a graduate student at Upstate, has received a fellowship from the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology. Arturo specializes in researching dengue fever.

Upstate graduate student Arturo Barbachano-Guerrero has received a four-year fellowship from the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology.

The award from Consejo Nacional De Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) will help Arturo conduct research on dengue fever.

Arturo enrolled at Upstate last year after meeting Anna Stewart-Ibarra, PhD MPA and Timothy P. Endy MD MPH, from Upstate’s Center for Global Health and Translational Science via a mutual collaborator.

Dr. Stewart-Ibarra’s research specialty is the environmental and socio-political influences on dengue transmission in Ecuador.

Arturo, who has a bachelor’s degree as a Chemical Bacteriologist and Parasitologist and a master’s degree in Molecular Biology, taught college students for a year in Mexico City, then worked for the Mexico City health ministry for two years in a research lab on infectious diseases.

Arturo’s primary research focus is in pathogenesis of viral diseases, specifically with Dengue and Kaposi Sarcoma-associated Viruses with Dr. Endy and Christine King PhD, who conduct research on dengue in the Far East and in South America. He has contributed to a study of dengue in bats in southeastern Mexico.

“It’s very translational,” Arturo said of the work he’s doing at Upstate. “We can develop and apply plans to control infectious diseases. I like the basic science, too.”

Public health crises like dengue fever and the Ebola virus affecting Africa have social, ecological and biological components, Arturo said.

While the Ebola virus has captured the world’s attention, dengue fever has been spreading as well. At first only associated with Thailand, dengue has been in South and Central America for a long time, Arturo said, and might emerge in other places, too.

“We can’t tell if it’s going to be a big problem,” Arturo said of dengue.

Arturo has four more years of research at Upstate to look forward to, but he’d like a career as an academic researcher in Mexico. “I plan to go back and apply what I have learned,” he said.

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