Since 2004, the ASH Minority Medical Student Award Program (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 an ASH member. In 2016 the career-development award program, part of the Minority Recruitment Initiative (MRI), was expanded beyond the traditional eight-to-12-week project — this year, 21 under-represented minority medical students from the United States and Canada enrolled in DO, MD, or MD/PhD programs, took part in one of the following experiences:

  • Summer research experience for minority medical students between their first and second year of medical school, to be conducted during the summer break (8-12 weeks) with a laboratory- or clinically based hematology investigator.
  • Flexible research experience for minority medical students in their first, second, or third year of medical school, to be completed over the course of a year (an approximately 320- to 480-hour commitment).
  • Yearlong research experience for minority medical students in between their first and second, second and third, or third and fourth years of medical school. Participants will take a year off from medical school to engage in research full-time.

Designed to spark minority medical students’ interest in the field of hematology, MMSAP is the first in a pathway of initiatives under ASH’s MRI, a program committed to increasing the number, and creating a pipeline, of minority medical scholars in hematology.

Program participants are paired with both a research and career-development mentor to assist them with the execution of their projects and offer career guidance throughout medical school and beyond. After the research year, the students are encouraged to remain involved with ASH throughout medical school and residency to keep them engaged in the study of hematology and to help them gain experience in the field. Each of the 21 awardees received a stipend of $5,000 during his/her research experience and a $2,000 allowance for travel to this year’s annual meeting.

One of the 2019 winners, Mr. Oluwamayokun Oshinowo of the Medical College of Georgia, shared more about his background in hematology, his research work as a first-time MMSAP participant, and what the experience means to him. Please join ASH in congratulating all of this year’s awardees!

Oluwamayokun Oshinowo

Medical College of Georgia
Defining the Mechanism for Impaired Platelet Forces in Immune Thrombocytopenia
Research Mentor: Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD — Emory University
Career Development Mentor: Leon Bernal-Mizrachi, MD — Emory University

“I found hematology in a roundabout way: I’ve always known I wanted to be a physician, and in middle school and high school I became interested in the heart and in blood, so from there, as a young person, I figured that I must want to be a cardiologist. Eventually I joined a cardiology lab in undergrad, and while I liked it, I decided to give hematology a try and joined Dr. Lam’s lab. It was a real connection, and I became amazed at how complex something as “simple” as blood can be. And since you can easily get a blood sample, research-wise, blood is great to work with. I recently finished my hematology block in medical school, and I’m just drawn to the science as well as the medicine behind it.

“In terms of my research work, I’m a biomedical engineer by training, so my project from undergrad as well as this past summer was to help utilize the biophysics and contraction force of platelets to better understand disease states. The main disease state we’ve been looking into is immune thrombocytopenia, and this is because there is really no known cause as to why some patients bleed with low platelets and some patients do not. Our hypothesis is that this could be occurring due to a biophysical problem, and we found that low platelet contraction force is contributing to patients having bleeding symptoms. Some of our data tracking patients over time have shown that when individuals have low platelet force and low platelets, bleeding symptoms occur. However, when that force increases or when the platelet count increases, these bleeding symptoms stop. I think this is opening up a new realm for diagnostic technology because most of it is biochemically based, and now we have found one of the first biophysical tools with diagnostic potential to understand cellular mechanisms.

“As an MD-PhD student, I’ve found a lot of value in just being around Dr. Lam and observing how things work — how he balances clinic and research and uses both to figure out what scientific questions to ask. He has this saying that he wants to bring his research from “the basement to the bench to the bedside,” and he has shown me that MD-PhDs are people who can understand both science and medicine, which is vital for the progression of new therapeutics and diagnostics. It’s been great having a mentor I can look up to who is on the same career path I want to follow.

“As an MMSAP participant, I appreciate that ASH has a supportive community and that they’re working to attract students to hematology. They have connected me with a career mentor and have given me so many opportunities to network and meet people in the field, to listen to talks, to access more hematologic research, and to have that protected time to dive into my interests.

“I recently gave a talk to first-year students at my med school about the MMSAP program. I told them that if they are thinking about hematology and want to learn more, the MMSAP offers great exposure and a great experience. Participants go to the annual meeting, can give a presentation, and those who submit an abstract can present a poster or an oral presentation. I enjoyed my experience and I highly recommend it to the students at my med school.”

2019 MMSAP Summer Participants

Maria Acevedo
University of Illinois College of Medicine
ALL in Hispanic patients: searching for germline genetic variants to explain health disparity
Research Mentor: Lucy Godley, MD, PhD — The University of Chicago
Career Development Mentor: Lewis Hsu, MD, PhD — University of Illinois at Chicago

Selamawit Addissie
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Assessment of the effects of BRD4 inhibition on T lymphocyte immunity specific for Epstein-Barr virus-driven lymphoproliferat
Research Mentor: Robert Baiocchi, MD, PhD — The Ohio State University
Career Development Mentor: Rayne Rouce, MD — Texas Children’s/Baylor College of Medicine

Cristina Contreras Burrola
Indiana University School of Medicine
Reduced toxicity conditioning for non-malignant hematopoietic cell transplants
Research Mentor: Christopher Dvorak, MD — University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital
Career Development Mentor: Bhavana Bhatnagar, DO — The Ohio State University

Berline Francis
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Characterization of immune cells producing regulatory cytokines that mediate tolerance in SCD patients
Research Mentor: Courtney Fitzhugh, MD — National Institutes of Health
Career Development Mentor: Deepika Darbari, MD — Children’s National Medical Center

Mahogany Oldham
University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences
Analyzing immune parameters of patients with sickle cell disease on combination therapy; hydroxyurea and chronic transfusion
Research Mentor: Allistair Abraham, MD — Children’s National Medical Center
Career Development Mentor: Yvonne Efebera, MD — The Ohio State University

Tijesunimi (TJ) Oni
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Incidence of thromboembolism in pregnancy for African American women with sickle cell trait
Research Mentor: Sophie Lanzkron, MD, MHS — Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Career Development Mentor: Henny H. Billett, MD, MSc — Montefiore Medical Center/The Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Adriana Saavedra-Simmons
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
Identifying biologic factors predictive of prognosis and risk for treatment related toxicities in high risk pediatric acute lymphoma
Research Mentor: Maria Monica Gramatges, MD, PhD — Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine
Career Development Mentor: Titilope Fasipe, MD, PhD — Texas Children’s/Baylor College of Medicine

Alexis Williams
Medical College of Wisconsin
Prevalence and significance of sarcopenic obesity in MM patients undergoing AutoHCT
Research Mentor: Anita D’Souza, MD, MS — Medical College of Wisconsin
Career Development Mentor: Laura Michaelis, MD — Medical College of Wisconsin

2019 MMSAP Flex Participants

Ololade Adebiyi
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Neurocognition in regularly transfused patients with sickle cell disease
Research Mentor: Laura De Castro, MD — University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Career Development Mentor: Gregory Kato, MD — University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Lissa Bair
University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine
Impact of universal newborn hemoglobinopathy screening on disease-related complications among Ontario children with SCD
Research Mentor: Ewurabena Simpson, MD, MPH — University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine
Career Development Mentor: Marc Carrier, MD, MSc, FRCPC — University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

Alexandra Boye-Doe
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Understanding pain in sickle cell disease: adhesion and inflammation
Research Mentor: Umut Gurkan, PhD — Case Western Reserve University
Career Development Mentor: Ben Tomlinson, MD — University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

Elizabeth De Jesus
Tufts University School of Medicine
Inherited thrombophilia and the risk of peripheral arterial disease:a systematic review and meta-analysis
Research Mentor: Adam Cuker MD, MS — Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Career Development Mentor: Natasha M. Archer, MD — Boston Children’s Hospital/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Ista Egbeto
Tufts University School of Medicine
Impact of genetic status on clinical outcome in myelofibrosis patients after allogeneic stem cell transplantation
Research Mentor: R. Coleman Lindsley, MD, PhD — Dana-Faber Cancer Institute
Career Development Mentor: Gabriela S. Hobbs, MD — Massachusetts General Hospital

Nathanaelle “Onyi” Ibeziako
Tufts University School of Medicine
Plasmodium falciparum morphology in Senegalese patients with sickle cell trait and disease
Research Mentor: Natasha Archer, MD, MPH — Boston Children’s Hospital/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Career Development Mentor: Abner Louissaint, MD, PhD — Massachusetts General Hospital

Randolph Lyde, Jr., PhD
Temple University School of Medicine
Uptake of pro- and anti-thrombotic proteins by in vitro grown megakaryocytes have the potential for therapeutic intervention
Research Mentor: Mortimer Poncz, MD — Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania
Career Development Mentor: Lawrence F. Brass, MD, PhD — Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Mubarik Mohamed
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Elucidating immunophenotypic effects of lenalidomide in acute myeloid leukemia
Research Mentor: Natarajan Muthusamy, DVM, PhD — The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Career Development Mentor: Sam Penza, MD — The Ohio State University College of Medicine

Ashley Shatola
University of California Davis
Immune checkpoint molecule expression in acute myeloid leukemia
Research Mentor: Anjlee Mahajan, MD — University of California Davis Cancer Center
Career Development Mentor: Anupama Narla, MD — Stanford University

2019 MMSAP Yearlong Participants

Lia DeRoin
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
Assessing the potential limitations of cultured skin fibroblasts for germline testing in hematologic malignancies
Research Mentor: Jane Churpek, MD, MS — The University of Chicago
Career Development Mentor: Olatoyosi Odenike, MD — University of Chicago

Chibuikem Nwizu
Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University
Characterization of malignant vesicle phenotype through treatment in leukemia patients
Research Mentor: Peter Quesenberry, MD — Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University
Career Development Mentor: Matthew Quesenberry, MD — Lifespan Cancer Institute

Anna Wojcicki
University of Minnesota Medical School
Targeted inhibition of CREB for the treatment of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia
Research Mentor: Kathleen Sakamoto, MD, PhD — Stanford University School of Medicine
Career Development Mentor: Laura Michaelis, MD — Medical College of Wisconsin

Learn More

Each MMSAP participant will present his or her findings at Saturday evening’s Promoting Minorities in Hematology Presentations and Reception (Saturday, December 7, 6:30-9:00 p.m., Hyatt Regency Orlando, Plaza International I/J and Orlando Ballroom LMN – map it). 

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