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Dome - Partnering Toward Discovery

Dome November 2013

Partnering Toward Discovery

Date: October 29, 2013

Roy Ziegelstein, vice dean for education, socializes with students at the first of a series of new seminars.
Roy Ziegelstein, vice dean for education, socializes with students at the first of a series of new seminars.

When he recalls his residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Roy Ziegelstein remembers

the challenges of treating patients who were ravaged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in its early days. But he also remembers the inspiration of “incredible conversations” with basic researchers who were looking for ways to control the virus’s replication.

Now vice dean for education for the school of medicine, Ziegelstein worries that today’s medical and research trainees are growing further apart. To reverse that trend, he has helped launch a monthly series of seminars, “Partnering Toward Discovery,” that aims to bring M.D. and Ph.D. students together to hear about research and its clinical applications. No less important, Ziegelstein points out, is the opportunity to meet and learn from each other.

While the graduate and medical students were once based in the same buildings, the opening of the Armstrong Building in 2009 put future medical doctors across campus from their Ph.D.-pursuing peers in the Miller Research Building and the Preclinical Teaching Building complex.

“Though medical students participate in several types of research, there is little interaction between medical and graduate students on a larger scale,” says Janaki Paskaradevan, a medical student and president of the Medical Student Senate. “This new initiative allows both groups to come together and realize the potential for collaboration, and even more so, gain better insight into ways that research and clinical medicine can interact to benefit the patient.”

Graduate Student Association President Rosie Jiang adds, “For medical students, this series provides a perspective on what happens in basic science research before changes can happen in clinical practice, while also providing real examples of what ‘translational’ actually means. For graduate students, it provides an opportunity to better understand the hurdles that clinicians face. This perspective, taken back to the bench, can spark powerful research that changes medical practice.”

The first event of the series, “The Road to Curing HIV,” was held in September. It featured Johns Hopkins researcher Robert Siliciano as well as one Ph.D. and one M.D. student currently working in his lab. But the real mixing began later, after Ziegelstein closed the talks with an exhortation to “introduce yourself to at least one person you don’t know” during the social hour to follow.

Ph.D. student Deidre Ribbens says she appreciated the opportunity to meet peers in the M.D. program.  “This is the type of atmosphere that’s going to foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas.”

M.D. student Kate Miele agrees. “While we can definitely change the world independently, the impact will be much greater if we work together.”

–Shawna Williams


The next seminar takes place on Dec. 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the Zayed Auditorium. Marc Halushka, associate professor of pathology, will speak about cardiovascular disease and research.