Welcome to the MUSM Student Newsletter! We hope you like the new format, new design, and new way of sharing important information. Our first issue is all about research. In it, you'll find a student and faculty spotlight, answers to research and service questions, and an update on LCME Accreditation.
Student Spotlight
Marissa D’Souza is a third year medical student on the Savannah campus interested in pursuing Neurology as a specialty. She first got involved in research in high school. While at Tech, she focused more on the neurosciences and bench research so in medical school she gravitated more towards clinical projects. She used her network to build connections that eventually led her to Stanford and a funded summer research project.

Marissa shares this story about her time at Stanford: “I was able to witness a new MRI-guided ultrasound procedure being used to treat a nurse disabled by essential tremor. After an hour in the MRI machine, her tremor was significantly improved, and, for the first time in years, she drank a cup of water without spilling a drop. For that to happen, a basic science researcher needed to elucidate the part in the brain responsible for essential tremor. A clinical/translational researcher needed to study how ultrasound beams could target that part of the brain and quantify its safety and efficacy in doing so. It was an experience I will never forget and is the perfect example of what happens when research meets patient care.”

Her advice to other medical students regarding research is to, “just get started. Don’t worry about finding the perfect mentor or project or lab. Reach out to someone and start somewhere; talking on the phone to someone about their academic interests is in no way a binding contract. I think I sent 50+ emails out and only got like 2-3 replies. Of those replies, one worked out. But that one connection landed me numerous other opportunities I would have never otherwise had access to.”
Faculty Spotlight
Dr. Lauren Gilbert is an Assistant Professor of Community Medicine and joined MUSM in July 2019. She has a PhD in Sociology and Masters in Public Health Management and Policy, both from the University of Florida. Dr. Gilbert chose to join Mercer because of the focus on rural communities. “My research has always revolved around the identification and alleviation of rural health disparities by working with the communities to empower them in their health journeys,” said Dr. Gilbert.
Her past research includes working with black prostate cancer survivors who became advocates and working with local substance abuse prevention coalitions in Wyoming. Sustainability of projects is important to her work and to build relationships with other organizations to keep the work going. She loves being out in the communities and being involved in the process of improving health.
Currently, all of Dr. Gilbert’s research revolves around rural health disparities, with research tracks in the opioid epidemic, mental health, and health literacy. She was recently involved in a project that called all the pharmacies in the state to ask about the availability of Naloxone. Her future plans include working directly with rural primary care physicians to understand their perceptions and barriers to receiving Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Waiver Training to help patients with opioid use disorder. She is also in the beginning stages of working with local partners to gain a better understanding of farmers’ and farmworkers’ mental well-being and needs in Georgia.
Is COVID-19 Affecting Your Summer Plans?
Many of you have asked what effect COVID-19 and its ripples will have on your research and service aspirations and how this will affect your overall specialty goals and residency applications. Changing your well thought out plans can be overwhelming, but sometimes taking a different path can yield incredible outcomes. Many of you have already found alternate research ideas and ways to contribute to your communities during this upheaval. If you are looking for options that will allow you to still participate in service or research in the coming months, we have put together answers to some of your frequently asked questions.

S ummer Research Application Opens Soon!
Applications for the 2020 Summer Research Scholars Program will open the first week of May. The Summer Research Scholars program provides rising second year medical students with opportunities to participate in in-depth research with members of the MUSM faculty. To apply, students will need to have a CV and will also be required to answer several short questions that will be released with the application. Additional details will be available in the next several weeks.

To learn more or to receive assistance with your CV, contact Sarah Schanck , Director of Career Counseling and Student Research Coordinator, or schedule a Zoom Appointment for CV review.
2020 Joint Research Conference Going Virtual
The annual MUSM Joint Research Conference will still take place on Thursday, May 14, but in a virtual format for the first time ever! We’re excited to keep this tradition going during these uncertain times and hope that you will participate.

Each year, Mercer University School of Medicine and Mercer University College of Pharmacy host a Joint Research Conference, which brings together faculty and students who present the latest developments in research. To learn more, please email Dr. Jacob Warren , Faculty Research Committee Chair or visit our website .
LCME Accreditation
Self-Study Update
LCME Accreditation Self-Study continues amidst our community’s response to COVID-19. Through independent student analysis as well as subcommittee work focused on the data collection instrument and self-study standard reports, our students play a vital role. Be on the lookout for an invitation to participate over the coming months. We really appreciate your time in this effort as we make progress together toward a successful Site Visit in January 2021! To learn more, contact Susan Cline, PhD , LCME Faculty Accreditation Lead.