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Headshots of students who gave oral presentations at the 2021 Interprofessional Student Showcase.

An Impressive Show of Interprofessional Student Research

  • The third annual Interprofessional Student Scholarship Showcase featured eight oral presentations to highlight the interprofessional spirit of the event, selected from 21 abstracts submitted by students from the Manchester and Worcester campuses of MCPHS University.

    The third annual Interprofessional Student Scholarship Showcase (previously known as Interprofessional Research Day) was held virtually via Zoom due to safety measures revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic. Accepted for poster presentations were 21 abstracts by undergraduate students, graduate students, and postgraduate residents and fellows across the MCPHS University Manchester and Worcester campuses. Eight scholarship abstracts were featured in an oral presentation format. “The oral presentations were chosen to represent the spirit of the interprofessional nature of this event,” says Department Chair & Assistant Professor of Diagnostic Medical Sonography Jeffrey Hill, BS, ACS, FASE. Assistant Professor Hill moderated the sessions while Assistant Dean of Interprofessional Education & Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester Karyn Sullivan, PharmD, MPH, RPh, moderated questions as they appeared in the chat box. Each presenter was allotted roughly three minutes to answer questions from the audience after their five-minute presentation.

    The first hour of the event was dedicated to the wide variety of poster presentations, which spanned the Schools of Acupuncture, Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies. These sessions were presented in separate breakout rooms that audience members could enter and leave as they pleased. One example of the many impressive research projects is that of Zarina Meer, OD ’22, and Associate Professor of Optometry Louis Frank, OD, FAAO, which looked into the use of scleral contact lenses for people with keratoconus. People with keratoconus have a conical cornea prone to scarring and irregular astigmatism, among other issues. Meer and Dr. Frank’s research affirmed that scleral contact lenses, which are rigid and sit on the sclera (white part of the eye), can provide keratoconus patients with more comfort and better quality of life. Another interesting study was presented by Brittany Kane, PharmD ’21, who worked with co-authors Gabriel Gabro, PharmD ‘21; Katelyn Pimental, PharmD ‘20; Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester George Acquaah-Mensah, PhD, RPh; and Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester Matthew Metcalf, PharmD, PhD. Their research was aimed at discovering if cannabis chemotypes, or relative concentration of active ingredients, could be used more reliably than the current method of distinguishing medicinal cannabis products by genotypes, or “strain” (indica and sativa). Their results found that differentiating products by active ingredients such as cannabinoids (THC and CBD) and terpenes, the molecules contributing to taste and smell (limonene and pinene), are better methods of categorization than genotypes and can provide more predictable health outcomes for patients. In another breakout room, Alex Pollack, MAc ’22, and JoHanna MacBeth, MAOM ’22, who worked with Director of Research, New England School of Acupuncture Lisa Conboy, MA, MS, ScD, were praised by multiple faculty members for their animated model mapping out the complex relationship between symptoms and diagnostic reasoning of East Asian Medicine. Although it may not have been feasible to see each impressive presentation in every breakout room, you can view all 21 abstracts here.

    The second hour of the event regrouped everyone in a podium format to view the eight oral presentations. Kicking off the hour was presenter Eunmi Kim, PharmD ’22, who worked with Shail Modi, PhD in Pharmacology ’23, and Professor Acquaah-Mensah to analyze gene expressions in breast cancer subtypes. Also, on the topic of breast cancer, Nandini Gandhi, MS in Pharmaceutics ’21, followed up with a presentation on a drug delivery platform for cisplatin activity in triple-negative breast cancer, which she worked on with Shail Modi and Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies & Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester Terrick Andey, PhD.

    Switching over into the field of optometry, Jason Guo, OD ’21, relayed his research with Assistant Professor of Low Vision & Rehabilitation Services, Director of Externships, School of Optometry, Chief of Low Vision Service, The Eye & Vision Center Kathryn Deliso, OD, into the effect of certain yoga positions on intraocular pressure. He explained how optometrists use yoga as a holistic approach to treating glaucoma and decreasing intraocular pressure; however, their research found that certain positions will cause the opposite to occur and should be avoided. In the School of Pharmacy but with an interprofessional consideration for public health officials, Yegnaneh Ragati Haghi, PharmD ’22; Sara Touchan; PharmD ’22; and Director of Pharmacy Outreach & Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester Paula Evans, PharmD, MS, BCGP, studied the appropriateness of antidepressants covered by Medicare Part D. Using 27 plans on the Medicare website, they found that more should be done to follow the American Geriatric Society's Beers Criteria in order to provide geriatric patients with medication options that avoid increased side effects. Also, on the treatment-planning front, Mirna Portillo, PharmD ’21, presented on behalf of her team an examination of the benefits of disease self-management for patients and providers alike. Her co-authors include Brittany Mantha, PharmD ‘21; Hetu Patel, PharmD ’21; Shaira Serrano, PharmD ’21; Deborah Cho, PharmD ’21; and Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester Donna Bartlett, PharmD, BCGP, RPh.

    In the School of Physical Therapy, Elizabeth Bates, DPT ’21; Megan Ianiro, DPT ’21; Nicole Wong, DPT ’21; and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Steven Lachowski, PT, DPT, OCS, analyzed the impact of year-round sport specialization on high school female athletes’ movement patterns as examined by Functional Movement Screen (FMS) performance. The presenters that followed challenged a different physical therapy test: the standard thoracolumbar goniometric method. In their research, Elijah Morin, DPT ’21, Tia Newberry, DPT ’21, Ryan Dube, DPT ’21, and their principal investigator adjunct faculty member Gina Powers, PT, DPT, OCS, found the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) to be a more detailed spinal assessment than goniometry.

    Concluding the sessions was the presentation of Tania Baigi, PharmD ’21; Gita Pandey Paudel, PharmD ’21; and their faculty advisor Dr. Sullivan. They developed a pharmacy-based evaluation tool to assess medication causality for inpatient fall events. This tool could be helpful not just for pharmacists, but also for interprofessional collaboration among inpatient care providers, as fall events are a common concern. Watch all eight oral presentations.

    The event was organized by Co-Chairs, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester Alok Sharma, PhD, and Dr. Metcalf, as well as the rest of the Showcase Planning Committee, including Executive Administrative Assistant, Office of the Dean, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester Holly Baker; Associate Professor of Nursing Emily Cabrera, EdD, MSN, RN; Dr. Conboy; Clinical Coordinator, General/Assistant Professor, & Director of DMS Online Debra Crandell; Dr. Deliso; Administrative Assistant for Pharmaceutical Sciences Darlene DiTomasso; Professor of Dental Hygiene & Associate Dean Christine Dominick, CDA, RDH, MEd; Assistant Professor Hill; Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy & Board-Certified Sports Clinical Specialist Christopher Joyce, PT, DPT, PhD; Program Director & Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, Director of Balance, Movement & Wellness Center Frances Kistner, PT, PhD, CEAS, CEEAA; Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies Linda Martino, MPAS, PA-C, CMPE; Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS Worcester/Manchester Helen Pervanas, PharmD, RPh; Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Heidi Robertson, OTD, OTR/L; and Dr. Sullivan.

    Photo caption: Some of the students who gave oral presentations at the 2021 Interprofessional Student Showcase (from the top left to bottom right): Yeganeh Ragati Haghi, PharmD '22; Jason Guo, OD '21; Eunmi Kim, PharmD '22; Shail Modi, PhD in Pharmacology '23; Mirna Portillo, PharmD '21; Nandini Gandhi, MS in Pharmaceutics '21; Tania Baigi, PharmD '21; Gita Pandey Paudel, PharmD ’21.