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SLU Medical Sciences Students Recognized at IDBI Research Symposium

Saint Louis University (SLU) Medical Sciences student Kirti Madhu won the Undergraduate Best Poster Award for her research project Anti-Proliferative Effects of Curcumin, Silibinin, and Combination of Curcumin plus Silibinin on Gastric Cancer at the recent SLU Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (IDBI) Research Symposium. In addition, SLU Medical Sciences student Vaishnavi Srirama was the only undergraduate student selected to give an oral presentation at the symposium.

Presentation at the IDBI Symposium
Presentation at the SLU Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation Research Symposium.

Madhu was excited to receive the Best Poster Award and explained what initially drew her to this field of research.

“It was great to be recognized with the Best Poster Award and it validated all the work that I put into my research,” Madhu said. “I was originally interested in this topic because of the focus on using natural chemicals to kill cancer cells; I was really intrigued by finding a non-toxic drug that could be safe for patients to use.”

As the only undergraduate speaker, Srirama presented her research titled Colon Cancer Cell Death due to Synergistic Activity of Phytochemicals is Modulated by Increased ROS, Activation of AMPK, and Inhibition of mTORC1. She explained what it was like to be an invited speaker for the event.

“I was excited because IDBI was my first oral presentation for research. The audience of established researchers and the fact that I was the only undergraduate definitely made me feel challenged, but I was thrilled to get an idea of what oral research presentations entail,” Srirama said. “I knew how hard I worked to generate data and how much time I spent learning the intricacies behind the project, so the presentation was a way to tell other people about what I have accomplished as an undergrad.”

Clinical Health Sciences (CHS) Associate Professor Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., MB(ASCP), is the faculty mentor for both Madhu and Srirama and was very pleased with both students’ accomplishments at the IDBI symposium.

“Both Kirti and Vaishnavi presented their undergraduate research with confidence and clearly communicated the complex scientific data and interpretations,” Dr. Ezekiel said. “As their research mentor, I was proud of their achievements.”

Dr. Ezekiel went on to explain how beneficial it can be for students to get involved in research at the undergraduate level like Madhu and Srirama have done.

“The benefits of doing research as undergraduate students are numerous. The students refine their critical thinking and analytical reasoning by thinking through experimental designs and interpreting results. The experience of presenting their research results expands their public presentation and communication skills. Explaining the research project and answering questions from the audience builds self-confidence and develops a broader understanding of how their scientific research impacts society. The whole research experience hones their scientific abilities that will be with them in any Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) career they undertake in the future,” Dr. Ezekiel said.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.