September 30, 2015

UMMS Students Earn 2nd Place at APAMSA Conference

UMMS students Mary Guan and Jiaxin Huang recently returned from the 2015 conference of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA), where they earned 2nd price in the poster contest for their summer 2015 work on hepatitis B knowledge and stigma in China

The research they presented was a subproject of an ongoing collaboration between UMMS Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of Clinical Hepatology, Dr. Anna Lok, and Professor Lai Wei from Peking University, Hepatology Institute, People’s Hospital in Beijing. The main project has been funded since 2011 by the University of Michigan Health System and Peking University Health Sciences Center Joint Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and explores predictors of the progression of Hepatitis C.  It has been highly successful not only in terms of patient enrollment (completion of enrollment of total of 2000 patients), but also in securing external funding (total $1.45 million) and in providing a platform for University of Michigan students to participate in global health research projects. 

UMMS students Mary Guan (left) and Jiaxin Huang earned 2nd place for their poster at the 2015 APAMSA conference at the University of California Irvine

Dr. Lok has been been sending M1 students to China as part of the Global REACH Faculty-led program since 2012. Through this program, Global REACH and the Medical School offer students (generally M1s) the opportunity to participate in faculty-mentored small group projects. Students join existing faculty projects, work with their mentor’s established relationships, and help to build the overall body of work. Together with their faculty mentor, students craft their own individual research project within the larger project scope. 

The 2015 project focused on the collection of data on hepatitis B knowledge and stigma. More than 1200 surveys were administered, either orally or filled out by the patient themselves, at liver, general medicine, and gastrointestinal clinics. Ms. Guan, Ms. Huang, and fellow UMMS student Jeremy Balch, received patient lists from clinic physicians daily then introduced the project to patients being surveyed, and informed them that the survey was completely voluntary and confidential before administering the survey. They were often able to have lengthy conversations with patients, hearing in depth many of the patients’ stories about their disease and what it was like living with their disease. 

The surveys were scanned weekly and sent to Dr. Lok along with an updated report completed by the students. The students had regular meetings with two physicians who helped coordinate the survey and patient enrollment.  They were also able to shadow physicians and nurses throughout their entire clinic shifts, receiving a first-hand view of the differences between US and Chinese health care delivery. The results of the survey showing stigmatization and discrimination were presented at the APAMSA conference in late September and earned 2nd prize in the student poster competition.

All told, nine medical students, three undergraduates, one MPH student, and one high school graduate have been involved in the studies’ sub-projects, which explore patient knowledge, satisfaction with treatment, and attitudes towards clinical research - all of which can play a role on medical decision-making and in the eventual progression of the disease. The training and participation of these students has had tremendous impact on their professional development and their interest in medicine, and has played a major role on the success of the main study. 

View conference website here.