Helen H.Glaser Student Essay

Student Wins Second Place in National Essay Award

Liat Bird, a fourth-year medical student, recently was awarded scond place in the Alpha Omega Alpha (AΩA) Honor Medical Society Helen H. Glaser National Student Essay contest.

Her essay, History of Present Illness, was based on her experience with a patient during her third-year rotation on hematology/oncology. “I was trying to capture the changes I saw in her, her family and everyone involved in her care as she realized how she wanted to live her final days and asserted herself so that it would happen,” she explained.

In addition to a cash award, Bird’s essay will be featured in the Society’s quarterly journal, The Pharos, which contains articles on nontechnical medical subjects, including history, ethics, national issues, personal essays and poetry.

Bird received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. She then spent two years working at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the lab of David Weinstock, MD, prior to starting at BUSM in 2012.

Student Wins Second Place in National Essay Award

Posted 2 years ago on in Awards & Honors, Featured

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Medical students receive research fellowship, essay award

Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Medical Society recognizes Chiang, Stern

Robert Boston

The Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Medical Society has recognized two students from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Rachel Stern (left) won a third-place award in essay writing and I-Ling Chiang (right) received a summer research fellowship. The students are shown with Morton E. Smith, MD, professor emeritus of ophthalmology and visual sciences, associate dean emeritus and councilor for the university’s Alpha Omega Alpha chapter.

Two students at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have received accolades for research and essay writing from the Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Medical Society.

I-Ling Chiang, who will be a second-year medical student this fall, was one of 51 recipients nationwide awarded the $6,000 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship.

For essay writing, the honor society recognized Rachel Stern, MD, in the Helen H. Glaser Student Essay Contest. Stern received her medical degree in May and in July will begin her residency in pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Jacobi Medical Center in New York.

“The caliber of students who compete for an Alpha Omega Alpha award is incredible,” said Morton E. Smith, MD, professor emeritus of ophthalmology and visual sciences, associate dean emeritus and councilor for the university’s Alpha Omega Alpha chapter. “It is a high honor for our students.”

For the student research fellowship, 72 medical schools submitted nominations; however, only one student per school was allowed to apply. The 10-week program supports Chiang’s study of inflammatory bowel disease, a condition that affects about 3.1 million people in the United States.

Chiang’s faculty research mentor is Thaddeus S. Stappenbeck, MD, PhD, a professor of pathology and immunology and of developmental biology. “I was fortunate to join the Stappenbeck lab, which focuses on studying mucosal immunology, and participate in a project related to inflammatory bowel disorder,” Chiang said. “We hope to find potential new ways to treat the disease and identify biomarkers that could allow for a personalized medicine approach. I am very excited about this project, and I hope our findings can bring insights into tackling the disorder and, ultimately, help patients.

“As I aspire to become a physician-scientist, this fellowship will allow me to get more training in experimental techniques, exposure to medical research and mentorship from experts in the field,” Chiang said.

Out of the 77 medical student applicants for Alpha Omega Alpha’s annual student essay contest, Stern won third place and a $550 prize. Titled “The Phantom Disease,” her essay examines chronic pain and its portrayal in literature. It will be published in the autumn issue of the honor society’s international quarterly medical humanities journal, The Pharos.

“Chronic pain is something we learn a lot about in terms of what not to do — for example, not to prescribe opioids, not to be fooled by drug-seeking behavior,” Stern said. “However, it is nearly impossible for a definitive diagnosis of pain, so it is something that patients suffer through with a loneliness that doesn’t accompany other illnesses.”

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