Meeting Review: Southeastern Medical Scientist Symposium
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By Muhan Hu, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

APSA’s 4th annual Southeast Regional Meeting was a great success this year, with over 120 registered participants representing more than ten universities! At the meeting, students in medical, graduate, MSTP, and undergraduate programs from UAB, Vanderbilt, Emory, Georgia Regents University, and many more had the opportunity to mingle and present their research during the two-day conference.

SEMSS ImageSoutheast Medical Scientist Symposium

The meeting also hosted three keynote speakers:

Dr. David Allison, a distinguished obesity researcher from UAB, talked about the myths and presumptions surrounding obesity: Did you know that there is no solid data proving that eating breakfast every morning aids in weight loss? Or that sexual intercourse doesn’t actually burn as many calories as the media claim? Or that you will believe these "facts" to be true if you repeatedly hear about them in your environment? In the end, take all claims you hear with a grain of salt until you’ve researched it yourself.

Dr. Bert Shapiro, the National MSTP Director Emeritus, presented a lighthearted talk about the history of the Medical Scientist Training Program since its establishment in 1964. He talked about the journey of the program from a time when it was just bits and pieces of research added to the medical curriculum to the highly organized program that is available for students today. A fun fact from his talk: if life forces you to drop out of an MSTP program, you’re not required to pay back the money!

SEMSS ImageSoutheast Medical Scientist Symposium

Dr. Jyothi Rengarajan, a distinguished infectious diseases researcher, presented the last keynote, talking about the little bug known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Did you know that this bacterium was found on a mummy dating back to 600 B.C.? Or that of the people who come in contact with the bug, only 10% actually develop active disease while others could be latent carriers or are completely immune?

Of course, the meeting was interspersed with three useful breakout sessions. These relaxed sessions gave students insight into creating the training grant and the grant process in general, what the future holds for physician-scientists with respect to residencies and publishing in research, and how to take care of yourself and be an active member in the community.

Overall, SEMSS 2013 was a great success! The meeting was great at educating students about research, but also at providing useful tips for becoming successful, happy physician-scientists.