Eleventh Annual Research Symposium

On Wednesday, September 15, students, faculty, staff, and guests gathered in George Hall for the Class of 2024 to present their research findings for the Medical Partnership’s 11th annual Research Symposium.

The Medical Scholars Program is an opportunity for students to expand their scholarly experiences and learn how medical knowledge is derived. They also learn how to frame a testable hypothesis, write a research proposal, carry out a project, evaluate scientific and medical data, and write up their results. It provides them with an opportunity to communicate their findings through presentations at local, regional, and sometimes national scientific meetings.

Their findings are then presented at the annual Research Symposium in the fall. The majority of participants are second year medical students who complete research in the summer between first and second year.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s MSP saw the largest number of students conducting research—44 students from the class (88%) took part in the program. This is highest level of participation since the program’s inception in 2015.

“As the director of the Medical Scholars Program I think it’s terrific that so many students chose to pursue a research project this summer,” said Dr. Leslie Lee. “Typically, we’ve had about 75% of the class participate in the program and I believe most, if not all, have found it to be a valuable learning experience. I’m always impressed by how much the students accomplish and learn in just 10 weeks, and the outstanding quality of their presentations, so I’m thrilled that this year that many more students will be taking advantage of this opportunity.”

Last year, all MSP projects were done remotely due to COVID-19, but this year will be mixed. Some institutions will be accepting students and will allow them to do in-person projects, while others will complete their research remotely.

Yelissa Navarro looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic affected trauma admission at Piedmont Athens Regional. She took on the project with fellow M2s Chandler Johnson and Forrest Clark.

“The shelter-in-place order went into effect in early 2020 and I was curious to see if this changed the population of trauma patients admitted to the ICU,” said Navarro.

They reviewed over 700 hospital charts from the Piedmont Athens Regional Trauma registry and compared different trends in patient demographics, injury characteristic, and events that arose during their hospital stay.

“We found that there was a shift in the population of trauma patients admitted during the pandemic,” said Navarro. “While trauma admissions declined during the pandemic, those that were admitted to the ICU had more severe injuries, comorbidities and complications during their stay. Yet despite these more severe injuries, the amount of physical therapy referrals as well as mobilization times (from time of admissions to when they begin therapy) remained the same.”

Navarro said she was excited to tackle research that dealt with the pandemic.

“Entering medical school during the pandemic is quite an interesting experience in terms of its effect on our medical education,” she said. “We are seeing active changes in how we treat patients even now. I chose this topic because it’s important to see in what ways COVID-19, and any other health crisis, changes the population of people seeking help and find more effective ways to treat them.”

“I see the Medical Scholars Program as a central component of our campus educational mission which is to educate excellent physicians with the necessary skills and attributes to meet the challenges of the 21st century practice of medicine,” said Lee. “This mission is achieved in part through a curriculum that is grounded in evidence-based clinical decision making. As such, it is important for students to learn where the evidence comes from, be it basic biomedical, clinical or translational science, and how to critically appraise and make sense of the data, so that as they progress through their careers as physicians, they are able to navigate the vast amount of medical knowledge available and incorporate new knowledge into their practice and provide their patients with the best possible care.”

“I haven’t performed any research like this previously and I was excited for the opportunity through MSP,” said Navarro. “This experience has been incredible and it has strengthened my desire to pursue more research in the future.”

The Class of 2024 traveled across the country partaking in many different specialties for the research:



2 @ AU in Augusta

3 w/ MP faculty

5 w/ UGA faculty

18 @ Emory

1 @ Johns Hopkins

1 @ Morehouse/Grady Hospital

1@ MUSC (Charleston)

1@ Northwestern

1@ NYU

3 @ Rush Medical Center (Chicago)

1 @ Seattle Research Institute

1 @ Sloan Kettering

1 @ Stanford

2 @ U of Chicago

1 @ U of Colorado

1 @ U of Pittsburgh

1 @ U of Wisconsin


Specialties represented: 

Surgery (various with majority being orthopedics)


Radiology (various)

Internal Medicine

Emergency Medicine



Medical Illustration/ObGyn


For a full list of presentations and abstracts, click here.

For more information about attending the Medical College of Georgia at the Medical Partnership campus

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