NEWS | March 5, 2020

Poster Day featured more than 100 studies by medical school students

Research allows students to work with mentors and get hands-on experience in academic medicine


This year’s Poster Day drew a record number of participants, the latest sign that the UC Davis School of Medicine continues to increase opportunities for student researchers.

Student Ernestine Chaco, left, with professors Mark Servis and Nancy Lane at Poster Day Student Ernestine Chaco, left, with professors Mark Servis and Nancy Lane at Poster Day

A total of 104 posters were on display in the Education Building on Wednesday evening.

“We are running out of room,” quipped Professor Saul Schaefer, “and if this continues to grow, we’re going to have to build a new building.”

The annual event features the efforts of medical students involved in research, as their many months of work and volumes of reading material is condensed onto a display paper that is 36 inches tall and 60 inches wide.

“It’s great to see the results of their hard work,” said Schaefer, director of medical student research and physician scientist training program. “Our goal is to engage students in research and to make them interested in research so that it becomes a component of their career and their life.”

Schaefer, a cardiologist, has always been involved in Poster Day, which began in one small room in Tupper Hall on the Davis campus. As interest grew, the event moved to a floor of the Education Building on the UC Davis Health campus. This year, it took up two floors, hallways and lecture halls of the building.

Dozens of students stood proudly by their work, eager to explain their study on the Sacramento campus, its results, and the teamwork involved with fellow students and faculty members.

Fourth-year student Rene Monzon had the privilege of working with four mentors: Zachary Lum, Alvin Shieh, Mark Lee and John Meehan of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. His goal was to study as many as 2,500 femur fractures and determine whether they can heal faster with the surgical insertion of nails or plates to stabilize the bone, or neither.

“What we saw is that using the plate compared to the nail, the patient was able to bear weight again the fastest,” Monzon said.

Ashley Shatola worked on a study called “Fragmentation of Care for Young Adults with Sickle Cell Disease in California.” The study looked at patients from 1991 to 2016 to examine the effect of receiving care at multiple medical facilities and its relation to their outcomes.

“I took an interest in studying diseases that affect vulnerable groups,” she said. “Sickle cell disease affects a significant portion of African American patients and can be associated with a high degree of morbidity and mortality.”

She learned that more frequent hospital admission of people with sickle cell between the ages of 18 to 25 were associated with increased mortality.

Her study was based on quality improvement, which is in line with her goal of improving the health delivery system in the United States.

Dean Allison Brashear congratulated participants and reminded them of the valuable skills they learn from performing research.

“We are dedicated here to bringing the next generation of physicians and scientists into the forefront, and taking all that you’ve learned, and all that you will learn, and improving the health in our communities,” Brashear said.