On March 22, Albert Einstein College of Medicine held its inaugural Impact Day, which featured the research and scholarly work of its medical students. The new event celebrated Impact, a four-year, longitudinal curricular program designed to help students pursue discovery, develop professional and research skills and create a capstone project in a scholarly area—ranging from basic and clinical translational research to community-based and global health. Einstein debuted the course last fall for first- and second-year students; all four classes were invited to participate in the research event.
“By the end of the course, students are equipped with practical research, project implementation and interprofessional skills that will serve them throughout their careers,” said Jessica Rieder, MD, MS, Attending Physician, Pediatrics, Founding Director, Bronx Nutrition and Fitness Initiative for Teens, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, and Director, Impact Course and Associate Professor, Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “But beyond that, this course, along with others, offers them the opportunity to have a meaningful, positive impact on our college, local and global communities, and reflect on the importance of this work as they decide what kind of physicians they want to be.”
The event was hosted by the Office of Medical Education, Office of Student Affairs and Office of Alumni Relations. Dr. Rieder and Vagish S. Hemmige, MD, Attending Physician, Internal Medicine, Montefiore Einstein, Director, Medical Student Research, and Associate Professor, Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Albert Einstein College of Medicine, led a faculty and staff committee that organized the event.
More than 60 students presented posters, including 18 who also delivered oral presentations. Faculty judges, who evaluated the significance, presentation quality and interpretation of the research, selected the winners: 14 students won honors for their work, including three who tied for first place in the oral presentation category. Those were:
- Eliza Balazic: “Traction Alopecia: Assessing the Presentation, Management and Outcomes in a Diverse Urban Population.” The condition, common among African American women, results from wearing tight ponytails, braids, cornrows or dreadlocks, or the use of hair extensions or weaves. (Mentor: Kseniya Kobets, MD, Director, Cosmetic Dermatology, Montefiore Einstein, and Assistant Professor, Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.)
- Emily Yamron: “Trends in Health Behavior at an Afterschool Program: The Impact of COVID-19 on Students’ Behavior.” Researchers evaluated differences in behaviors related to obesity and physical activity before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in students at three Bronx public middle schools. (Mentor: Dr. Rieder)
- Emily Kleinbart: “Disparities in Arthroplasty Utilization for Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy.” The study explored how patients’ race and income were linked to the likelihood of getting a type of shoulder surgery for a rotator cuff tear or osteoarthritis. (Mentor: Catherine Fedorka, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon and Assistant Professor, Orthopedic Surgery, Cooper Medical School, Rowan University)
Balazic, who conducted her study as part of a research year, said she wanted to share the progress of her work.
“I have an interest in hair loss in women, as our society is not always comfortable with bald or balding women,” said Balazic, who also presented four posters. “I was excited that the judges found interest and value in my work. Impact Day was a great way to share my research with my peers and also see what my peers are interested in.”
Mentoring Students for Success
Damara N. Gutnick MD, Internist, Montefiore Einstein, and Clinical Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Population Health, Psychiatry and Research Behavioral Sciences, and Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was one of 52 mentors for the students. Two of her mentees, second-year students Sarah Jacobs and Sarah McNeilly, won awards for their posters in the Community Engagement/Global Health category. Both conducted studies on novel ways to improve community participation in research.
“These students are at the forefront of a radical shift in medicine, namely authentically partnering with communities to not only participate in clinical trials but provide input in how research is conducted,” said Dr. Gutnick. “The results of their studies were of interest beyond Montefiore Einstein—they were selected to present their work last fall at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement national conference in Orlando and at the New York State Public Health Association Conference in White Plains.”
Dr. Gutnick said she relishes her role as a mentor who is available to listen to students’ ideas, understand their interests, provide feedback and introduce them to key resources and people who might help them develop and influence their careers. “I’m so proud of them when I see them succeed,” she added.
Second-year student Aaron Hui won first place in the Basic Translational Research/Clinical Research poster category for research on a novel system for osteochondral reconstruction for people with a toe condition called hallux rigidus, or stiff big toe. Last year, Hui was selected for an Einstein Medical Student Research Fellowship award and pursued a research year immediately following his first year in medical school, working with mentor Thay Q. Lee, PhD, in the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory of the Congress Medical Foundation in Pasadena, California.
“Receiving this award today serves as a reminder to me of how important it is to stay humble, trust in my mentor’s teachings and take small steps to achieve your goals,” said Hui, “I chose to attend Einstein because of how research-oriented it is—it’s part of the College of Medicine’s fundamental DNA. Impact Day is such a wonderful opportunity for students to not only share their research but also receive genuine feedback from some of the best researchers in the world. Impact Day is a unique opportunity that all Einstein students should consider participating in.”