Jessica Baumann c/o 2013
NIH Summer Research Fellowship
Prior to arriving at UT for medical school, I was involved in research projects both as an undergraduate at Gannon University (Erie, PA) and as a research assistant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. During my junior year at Gannon, I was a summer research intern with the NCI’s HIV Drug Resistance program, and under the supervision of Dr. Vinay Pathak, conducted a project examining the phenotypic characterization of drug resistance-associated mutations in HIV-1 RT connection and RNase H domains and their correlation with thymidine analogue mutations, just recently published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. While at Vanderbilt, I worked with Drs. Christine Chung and Robbert Slebos in the department of cancer biology on several projects, including the analysis of microsatellite mutations in buccal cells from a case-control study for lung cancer, the presence of human papillomavirus in early laryngeal carcinoma, and the nuclear factor-kappa B pathway and response in a phase II trial of bortezomib and docetaxel in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. I was very fortunate during this time to be able to publish the results of these projects in the journals Cancer Epidemiology, Laryngoscope, and Annals of Oncology, and am currently working with Dr. Chung to publish the results of another study of cancer therapeutics in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
I sought out the NIH Summer Research program at UT to not only further the breadth my research experience as a whole, but to also explore how I may integrate research into a career in Pathology or Hematology/Oncology, two specialties I am highly considering for residency. I sought out a mentor early so that I would be able to find someone actively working in one of those fields. After meeting with several labs on campus, I decided to work on a project with Dr. Lawrence Pfeffer, professor and vice-chair of the Department of Pathology and director of the Center for Adult Cancer Research. Dr. Pfeffer worked one-on-one with me to draft a proposal for a project that examined the use of interferons in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common primary adult brain tumor. During my time at his lab during the summer, I worked with both Dr. Pfeffer and Dr. Ziyun Du testing the combination of interferons with nuclear factor-kappa B inhibitors on GBM cell lines, which actually allowed me to integrate some of my previous knowledge of the NF-?B pathway from my time at Vanderbilt. Dr. Pfeffer also allowed me the opportunity to attend research meetings with one of his collaborators, Dr. Andrew Davidoff, Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery at St. Jude, whose lab primarily investigates pediatric solid tumors and neuroblastoma. My time in Dr. Pfeffer’s lab helped to not only broaden my previous knowledge of research techniques and protocols, but to further understand the importance of translational medicine in advancing the treatment of disease. The results of this project were recently accepted into the Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research, and I am hoping to arrange a research elective in my M-4 year with Dr. Pfeffer or one of his colleagues to further expand on the research we have done in the past.
I have been extremely fortunate during my student research experiences to have mentors that allowed me to become an active member of their research teams, rather than just an observer. They pushed me to act independently and think creatively, and have shown me how I can directly participate in treatment advances in my field. I am very grateful to the time and attention they devoted to my instruction, and continue to use them as models for the kind of researcher and physician I hope to one day become.