Since 2004, the MMSAP has provided under-represented minority medical students with an opportunity to engage in an eight-to-12-week hematology-related research project under the guidance of  ASH member mentors. In 2016 the career-development award program, part of the Minority Recruitment Initiative (MRI), was expanded to include three research options — this year, 24 under-represented minority medical students from the United States and Canada enrolled in DO, MD, or MD/PhD programs, took part in the Summer research experience, flexible research experience, or yearlong research experience.

This year’s spotlight awardee is Summer Experience Participant Natasha Stanley who shares a bit about her background in the sciences and her current research area of clonal hematopoiesis.


Natasha Stanley — Philadelphia College of Osteo Medicine; Determining the Cellular Localization and Trafficking of GPI-APs in PNH Cells; Research Mentor: Dr. Daria Babushok; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Kim Smith-Whitley

“I first became interested in hematology when I began working in a comprehensive bone marrow failure center as a full-time research specialist after graduation. Previous to working in hematology research, I had very little exposure to the field, but quickly fell in love with the specialty. I also value the infinite opportunities for research in hematology while allowing one to build and maintain relationships with patients through continuity of care.

“My project involved investigating the role of clonal hematopoiesis in dyskeratosis congenita, a rare telomeropathy that has a predisposition for bone marrow failure conditions such as aplastic anemia and is also associated with lung disease. Ultimately, mapping the patient’s genetic findings with their clinical course has the potential to establish prognostic markers and long-term clinical care plans for this rare patient population. This project was perfect as it built upon my knowledge of aplastic anemia and bone marrow failure conditions in general, while focusing on another disorder that I had very little prior exposure to.

“My research and career mentors are truly fantastic, and I am continually taken aback by their generosity, excitement, and the passion that they bring to not only their work but also to helping their mentees. The relationships that you build with your mentors are truly career- and lifelong. My mentors have also connected me with many different physicians and scientists to introduce me to all the different career options and pathways one may pursue as a hematologist.

“This award has impacted me greatly! It has served as yet another reaffirming experience that hematology is truly what I want to pursue and has connected me with so many mentors and established physicians and scientists within the field who are willing and able to provide guidance and support as I continue down this career path. It has truly been an honor and such a rewarding experience.”

Summer Experience Participants

Amissa Sei — Morehouse School of Medicine; Increasing Transduction Efficiency through Expansion of Stem Cells via Nicotinamide; Research Mentor: Dr. Allistair Abraham; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Margo Rollins

Ashley Ikwuezunma — University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; The Impact of Antifungal Prophylaxis on Invasive Fungal Infections in Children Diagnosed with Hematologic Malignancies; Research Mentor: Dr. Michael Scheurer; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Titilope Fasipe

Chioma Uche — University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine; Investigating the role of B cells in Acute Chest Syndrome; Research Mentor: Dr. Venee Tubman; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Despotovic

Halimat Olaniyan — University of Cincinnati; Analyzing Portable Diagnostic Tests for Sickle Cell Anemia; Research Mentor: Dr. Patrick McGann; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Theodosia A. Kalfa

Harold Dorsey — Howard University College of Medicine; Evaluation of Activin A and VCAM-1 As Biomarkers of Chronic Renal Disease in Sickle Cell Disease Patients; Research Mentor: Dr. Marina Jerebstova; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Suvankar Majumdar

Jeremiah Whittington — University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago; The Ability of Electronic Stethoscope to Predict The Acute Chest Syndrome in Sickle Cell Disease Patients; Research Mentor: Dr. Robert Molokie; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Lewis Hsu

Lauren Ware — Howard University College of Medicine; Exploring a Genetic Basis for Variability in Sickle Cell Disease Patients’ Response to Oxycodone; Research Mentor: Dr. Swee Lay Thein; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Andrew Campbell

Oluwalonimi Adebowale — Howard University College of Medicine; Lymphocyte subpopulation profiling in Sickle Cell Disease and Red Cell Alloimmunization; Research Mentor: Dr. James Taylor; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Cynthia Dunbar

Omar Ramos — Universidad Central del Caribe; Spatial Profiling of Tumor Microenvironment in Pediatric Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Using Multiplexed Cytometric Imaging; Research Mentor: Dr. Rikhia Chakraborty; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Nader El-Mallawany

Ricardo Torres Ramírez — Universidad Central del Caribe; Assessing the Efficacy of HSP70 inhibitors YK5 and LSI-137A in Multiple Myeloma; Research Mentor: Dr. Monica Guzman; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Johnnie José Orozco

Zaria Williams — Howard University College of Medicine; Associations between Cognitive and Psychological Factors and Pain-Related Outcomes in Youth with Sickle Cell Disease; Research Mentor: Dr. Deepika Darbari; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Courtney Fitzhugh

Flex Experience Participants

Selinam Norgbe — Creighton University School of Medicine; Integrative Genomic Analysis in Relapsing Mantle Cell Lymphoma Patients; Research Mentor: Dr. Julie Vose; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Laura Michaelis

Chinonso Ukeje — University of Illinois At Chicago; Prevalence and Risk Factors of Atrial Fibrillation in Sickle Cell Disease; Research Mentor: Dr. Santosh Saraf; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Olatoyosi Odenike

Guido Pelaez — George Washington University School of Medicine and Science; Evaluation of selective HDAC6 inhibition as a potentiator of antigen-targeted immunotherapy in Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma; Research Mentor: Eduardo Sotomayor; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Christopher Hourigan

Jeffrey Edwards — Stanford University School of Medicine; Correlative Study of Disease Activity in Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis; Research Mentor: Dr. Michael Jeng; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Arturo Molina

Maryam Omar — Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine; Interleukin-6 Levels and Disease Activity in POEMS Syndrome; Research Mentor: Dr. Angela Dispenzieri; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Melody Smith

Michael Rabaza — University of Illinois At Chicago; Osteonecrosis of the Femoral Head in Sickle Cell Patients: Identifying Biological Markers and Pathways for Prediction and Treatment; Research Mentor: Dr. Santosh Saraf; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Sherif Badawy

Selamawit Addissie — The Ohio State University College of Medicine & Public Health; Exploring the Benefits of Combination Antiviral Therapy for Treatment of EBV-associated Primary Central Nervous Lymphoproliferative Disease (EBV-LPD); Research Mentor: Dr. Robert Baiocchi; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Rayne Rouce

Yearlong Experience

Oluwamayokun Oshinowo — Georgia Institute of Technology; Defining the Mechanism for Impaired Platelet Forces in Immune Thrombocytopenia; Research Mentor: Dr. Wilbur Lam; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Leon Bernal-Mizrachi

SaRah McNeely — Florida Atlantic University; Vessel Wall Imaging and Functional Connectivity in Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease; Research Mentor: Dr. Eboni Lance; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Gerardo Colon-Otero

Tierra Bender — University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Outcome of Renal Dialysis in Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia; Research Mentor: Dr. Ram Kalpatthi; Career Development Mentor: Dr. Enrico Novelli


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