Research day to offer citizens chance to explore local medical research

Huntington citizens will be able to explore medical research going on within their city Friday, during Marshall University’s Health Sciences Research Day.

The day gives individuals walking through the lobby of Cabell Huntington Hospital a chance to meet the faces behind the research going on at Marshall’s campus, said Shreya Mukherji, a third year doctorate biomedical research student.

“I think, especially at Marshall, a lot of the research is very community-driven, and this is not just restricted to our lab, but labs that are working in biotech that work on obesity or diabetes,” Mukherji said. “Everyone has someone in their family who is affected by a disease that is actually being researched here. Being able to understand what happens, and understanding research that is being taken to treat it, makes you more aware of the options you have. So, it is a great opportunity for people to come and see what is happening in their hometown.”

Trust being built between the public and the healthcare community is a way Research Day can make a positive impact on the Huntington community, said Laura Kutz, a sixth year doctorate student.

“I grew up here, so I know how much people hear about and distrust doctors,” Kutz said. “I understand that distrust, but if people are able to come to something like this and interact with people who are in the lobby presenting research, nobody here is trying to drive a specific drug or development, and I think that would really help the relationship between the community and public and with healthcare in general. I think it would forge bonds of trust in the community and the medical community as well.”

With trust beginning to happen, Kutz said internal relationships within the healthcare community are benefiting.

Along with this, Research Day is a chance for students to see the work their peers are doing and to gain new perspectives, which helps in their educational process, Kutz said.

“It is really exciting to get different perspectives,” Kutz said. “I think that is something people underestimate in the sciences, but when you are there, you get all these different perspectives and you are like, ‘You know I did not think about it that way.’”

With research happening at Marshall, Mukherji said it is nice to see what everyone else is working on, so students can support each other.

“Even amongst our peers, sometimes we do not know the depth of the work they are doing, so when we stop by and realize, ‘Oh wow, they have a lot of things that they have been working on, and they have good work,’ we can appreciate each other’s work,” Mukherji said. “It is a good platform and environment. At the end of the day, we are biomedical, so everything we do is, we are hoping, will be relevant to medicine.”

126 posters will be presented during Research Day, and Mukherji, who will be presenting for the second time, said this presentation will be different than last year.

“This is the first time I am presenting stuff that could actually become something bigger than just a poster,” Mukherji said. “When I presented last year, I was in my second year, and it was a lot of preliminary stuff, so it was a different outlook. I was looking into what to do next, and how do people receive this preliminary information. Every year you get more established in your thinking, so last year it was asking ‘What do you think? Is this exciting?’ and this year it is “It is exciting! I hope you like it!’”

Kutz will not be presenting this year, but has been preparing an undergraduate student to do so. She said there are many benefits for undergraduate students participating in Research Day.

“As far as preparing him, there is a whole process with research in learning how to write for the people you are talking to, so we worked on getting his poster together and did some practices, because presenting a poster is a very specific skill,” Kutz said. “I think one of the benefits to Research Day too, is the people in our field have an undergrad, like mine, who is interested in clinical work later, and they are able to connect with those clinical professionals and learn how to present to those people and have that whole interaction.”

Meredith OBara can be contacted at [email protected].