Eleven YU Undergrads Participate in Advanced Biomedical Research Program
Eleven Yeshiva University undergraduates have been selected to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), an advanced biomedical research program at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Directed by Dr. Victoria Freedman, Einstein’s associate dean for graduate programs in the biomedical sciences, and Dr. Barry Potvin, professor of biology at Yeshiva College and visiting professor in the cell biology department at Einstein, the program has drawn 58 students in total from a variety of colleges and universities to engage in cutting-edge scientific studies.
In fields ranging from neuroscience to epidemiology to microbiology, the students receive hands-on research experience in their areas of interest normally reserved for graduate-level work.
“I’m particularly enjoying my placement in Dr. Linda Jelicks’s animal imaging lab within the Nuclear Medicine and Biophysics Department at Einstein because this technology and field are completely new to me,” said Nechama Dreyfus, a biochemistry major at Stern College for Women. The lab she’s working in uses imaging technology to study the relationship between Chagas Disease, an infectious heart disease, and high-fat diets by analyzing MRI and microPET (Positron Emission Tomography) heart images of mice from different test groups.
“I learned about the medical application of radioisotopes, but I never would have guessed I’d get to see them used firsthand, let alone implement them myself,” she said. “This experience has broadened my sense of research as a whole as well as emphasized the incredible potential imaging technology contributes to research breakthroughs.”
The 11 students are clustered into three programs. Eight students—Dov Levine, Mordechai Smith and Darren Sultan of Yeshiva College and Deena Miller, Sarah Mizrachi, Esther Robin, Yosefa Schoor and Anna Weinstein of Stern College—were awarded scholarships through the Roth Institute Scholars Program, funded by the Ernst and Hedwig Roth Institute of Biomedical Science Education at YU. Two Stern College students—Melissa Kramer and Shira Marder—were chosen as part of the University Undergraduate Summer Research Scholars Program, which is supported through the Provost’s Office.
Dreyfus is participating in the program through the Stern Einstein Research Connection Fellowship, created and funded by Stern College alumnae attending Einstein, which provides a student between her sophomore and junior years with an introductory summer research experience at the medical school.
Each program provides students with a stipend and on-campus housing at Einstein, so they can feel part of the science community. Group seminars and workshops throughout the summer give participants a broad overview of the many types of research conducted at Einstein and provide them with strategies to become better scientists. In August, the students share their work as part of a poster session.
“The aim of SURP is to provide each student with the opportunity to experience the many rewards and challenges of biomedical research,” said Potvin. “It is hoped that some will decide to include research in their future career plans and that they will apply for admission to Einstein’s MD, PhD or MD/PhD programs.”
For Weinstein, a biology major working on a clinical research study in epilepsy with Dr. Sheryl Haut at Montefiore Medical Center, this summer has already influenced her thoughts about the future. Playing a real part in the diagnostic process has been an exhilarating experience. “Every Friday, the neurology department holds an epilepsy case study conference, during which a recent difficult patient case is presented to physicians, residents and fellows,” Weinstein said. “During the conference, we’re all prompted to take a stab at the potential diagnosis, treatment plan and prognosis for the patient. It’s incredible to be a part of the thought process of some of the most brilliant minds I’ve encountered.”
She added, “While I had already planned to attend medical school, this summer is definitely steering me in the direction of neurology as far as specialty is concerned.”
Levine, a chemistry major with a minor in writing, is working in Dr. Sridhar Mani’s Cancer Research Lab to study bacterial motility in inflamed intestines. “The different aspects of the question we’re addressing have been discussed locally in scientific literature, but very little research has been done previously regarding our particular question,” he said. “I hope to participate in a serious biomedical research experience, impacting it in a concrete way by designing and performing experiments and ultimately producing and discovering significant results about the complexity of the human body.”