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Ward Research Fellows selected for research programs at Vanderbilt, Meharry and in India

This summer Lipscomb undergraduates engaged in an array of research specialties in preparation for pursuing health care degrees.

Keely Hagan | 615-966-6491  | 

2022 WARD FELLOWS, LEFT TO RIGHT, TIMOTHY KHALIL, MINA IBRAHIM, LUCAS DOMBERG. KAYLEE WU, SETH MEYER, LEXI BROWN AND GRAY PULLIAS.

2022 WARD FELLOWS, LEFT TO RIGHT: TIMOTHY KHALIL, MINA IBRAHIM, LUCAS DOMBERG. KAYLEE WU, SETH MEYER, LEXI BROWN AND GRAY PULLIAS.

This year seven undergraduate students were awarded a Ward Research Fellowship to participate in summer research opportunities offered at Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College, directly with a physician in his research lab at Vanderbilt and with a neonatology research group working for a week in India.

Kaylee Wu with doctors

Harpeet Singh, Scott Guthrie, Kaylee Wu and Ryan McAdams

Ward Fellow Kaylee Wu, a senior biology major from Oregon, was selected to serve as clinical research assistant for a global health trip to India, led by Dr. Scott Guthrie, (B.A. '95), along with Dr. Ryan McAdams and Dr. Harpreet Singh Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

As clinical research assistant, Wu accompanied the doctors to five hospitals where physicians will participate in a clinical trial of a new technique for the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants. The goal of the trip was to adequately prepare the physicians for the clinical trial by training them how to perform the new technique and explaining its data and proven effectiveness.

Wu’s involvement will continue as participating doctors will send a video of each procedure they perform using the technique, and Wu will analyze each to assess the patient’s pain level based upon an approved rating system.

Kaylee Wu demonstrates LMA

Kaylee Wu

“I learned so much from the brightest doctors,” said Wu of her global health trip. “In addition to the clinical research, I observed the collaboration process and learned the nuances of adjusting to cultural differences in a professional setting. I learned how to participate in global health meetings and how to talk to doctors from other countries. 

“We worked long, hard days but still found time for learning about the culture of the area by experiencing it. At the end of each day, the four of us would have dinner at the nicest restaurants and discuss the inequities of global health.”

Wu met the doctors she would work with on the seven-day trip after arriving in India. Her confidence in making the journey alone is one trait that identified her as uniquely prepared for the global health program. Wu has extensive experience traveling internationally with her parents, who are from China and Indonesia. She says those adventures developed in her an enthusiasm for learning from new people and new experiences. 

Additionally, as a student-athlete on the Lipscomb women’s golf team, Wu knows how to bring her best to each of the many activities in her hectic schedule. She has helped lead the Bisons to tournament wins while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and being named a Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar. Wu is also active on campus in the Pi Delta social club and TriBeta, a biology honors society where she serves as social media officer.

On Guthrie’s encouragement, Wu is planning to present at Lipscomb’s 12th Annual Student Scholars Symposium on April 13, 2023.

Guthrie is serving as Lipscomb’s J.S. Ward Society physician-in-residence this year. In November, he will present “Administration of Surfactant to Neonates: Optimizing Non-Invasive Ventilation Through the Delivery of Surfactant by Laryngeal or Supraglottic Airway,” a topic drawn from this past summer’s research trip to India.

Guthrie is an associate professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University and is based at the Jackson-Vanderbilt Regional Affiliated NICU. His global health work focuses on health care provider education and training in low and middle income countries to improve neonatal care and perinatal mortality.

Ward Research Fellows are selected through a competitive application process. Rising juniors and seniors with a strong desire to pursue an M.D. degree or a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree must first be nominated to apply by a member of Lipscomb’s Health Professions Advisory Committee. Candidates then compete through a rigorous application process based on academic merit.

Lexi Brown in research lab

Lexi Brown

Three 2022 Ward Research Fellows were selected to participate in the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Clinical Research Internship Program in partnership with Lipscomb University.

Lexi Brown, biochemistry, worked with Jennifer Herrington, Ph.D., to research the repurposing of FDA-approved drugs as tocolytics. Timothy Khalil, biology, matched with Dr. Susan Guttentag and Seunghyi Kook, Ph.D., to study Rab38 in lung cells; and Gray Pullias, biochemistry and Spanish, worked with Dr. Dilbert Gonzalez, MHA and public health studies, on niche research exploring the barriers of access to health care for those with limited English profeciency or sexual minority status. The resulting brief is now under peer review by the Journal of General Internal Medicine before publishing. 

Dr. Grogan and Lucas Domberg in the Vanderbilt research lab

Eric Grogan and Lucas Domberg

Lucas Domberg, molecular biology, worked in applied research in pulmonology with Lipscomb alumnus Dr. Eric Grogran (B.S., '95). Dr. Grogan serves Vanderbilt as an associate professor, Vice Chair for the Research Department of Thoracic Surgery and Chief Thoracic Surgery at Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Vanderbilt.

Two Ward Fellows, Mina Ibrahim, biology, and Seth Meyer, biochemistry, conducted research at Meharry Medical College. Ibrahim worked with Dr. Amos Sakwe, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and cancer biology in the School of Graduate Studies and Research, studying issues related to triple negative breast cancer.

Seth Meyer in the research lab

Seth Meyer

Meyer worked with Dr. Jermaine Davis , Ph.D., associate professor, using a lens of structural biology to investigate structural mechanisms of genome maintenance in chemo-resistant cancers, with the goal of defining novel targets for anti-cancer therapies against aggressive tumors.