Page 1

UGAPreMed a magazine for uga premed students

february 2013

Following your dreams overcoming adversity

cover photo kbensaadoun photography

What’s Inside? 12 09 Spotlight | Dental Pediatric Dentistry

Spotlight | Course Multicultural Healthcare

Spotlight | Pre-Nursing Pre-Nursing Society

Spotlight | Medical School Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA

Feature | Healthcare The Affordable Care Act

04 05 06 08 09

11 12 16 18 20


Clubs in Action Minority Pre-Medical Student Association

Medical Student Spotlight Meet Hammad Aslam

Feature | Prosthetics A Source of Inspiration

Spotlight | Research What’s the Big Deal with Research?

Pharm Chat Beauty and Disease

PreMedStaff | facebook: premedmag | twitter: UGAPreMedMag


Kristi Haisler Sheela Sheth

Faculty Advisor Dr. Leara Rhodes Editor in Chief Shajira Mohammed Managing Editors Aashka Dave Sefali Patel

Ronke Olowojesiku

James Cheng

Kathleen LaPorte

Samantha Swygman

Business Editor Neha Gupta Assistant Editors Matt Middlebrooks Jordan Crofton Rachel Perez Design/Photo Editor Christine Byun

Abigail Shell

Nupur Shan

Not pictured: Nina Paletta Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

2 premed magazine at uga | February 2013

Designers Gloria Jen Lauren Foster Photographer Dilru Silva

Editor’s Note Do you have a dream that you would chase regardless of what obstacles come in your path? Most people would say yes but those who really do so are rare. Hammad Aslam, a medical at GHSU is one person who really inspires me to chase my dream with unwavering determination. I was looking at the website created by Professor Patricia Thomas from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications when I came across a video of Hammad. Curious to learn more about his journey as a medical student, I searched about him a little more and came across his blog After reading almost every blog post, his insightful entries and his laid-back yet strong-willed attitude left me awestruck. The article about Hammad gives just a glimpse of his life as an undergrad at UGA, but check out his blog and I assure you that your thoughts will not be left unaffected. Likewise, another UGA student, Rosbeth LoPresti, started the Pre-Nursing Society. She also followed through with implementing her ideas and reached her goal of making the Pre-Nursing Society a success. Many of my friends are looking for ways to get into research. If you are in a similar situation, read the very informative article why research is important and how you can find projects to get involved in. I know this is that time of the semester when everyone is drowning in tests and projects but it is essential to keep pursuing what you want because as Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Shajira Mohammed Editor-in-Chief

premed magazine at uga | February 2013


Spotlight | Dental


By James Cheng


ediatric Dentistry is a special field of dentistthe body will lose on its own is one that makes the field ry that focuses on the youngest demographic of of pediatric dentistry unique; but it is critical in manpatients: newborns to adolescents. After earnaging the eruption of the permanent teeth and is also a ing their dental degrees, pediatric dentists receive factor in proper speech development. post-doctoral training for an additional two or three years in the fields of child psychology, early life growth/ Despite being so well qualified to handle such a crudevelopment and special preventative care catered tocial area of childhood development, pediatric dentists ward children. It is also a less well known fact that peare in surprisingly short supply. According to the 2007 diatric dentists can specialize in treating patients with survey done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are special needs, like auapproximately 150,000 tism or cerebral palsy, as licensed dentists pracRoughly 28% of preschoolers and 14% of well. The child psycholoticing in the United school-aged children in the United States gy background plays an States with only 5,000 have untreated caries, which translates especially large part in specialized to treat chilto roughly 4.5 million children suffering pediatric dentists’ work: dren as pediatric denfrom untreated dental issues. from the design of the tists. Because there is a office and the layout of shortage of these health the equipment to communication with patients, an unprofessionals, according to the same survey, derstanding of children is crucial in being able to administer treatment effectively. These dental specialists provide a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of children, as The developmental and preventative care side of treatwell as those with special physical or emotional needs. ment is vital as well. Because tooth decay and poor gum They play an integral role in keeping younger patients health have been linked to lower performance levels in healthy and correcting any dental health issues during academic settings as well as hindered development of the transition from childhood to adulthood. social skills in children, the field of pediatric dentistry places a strong emphasis on preventative health care and educating patients on developing eating habits for positive hygiene. Also, because a large majority of patients are small children with their primary or baby teeth, many treatments are directed toward the maintenance and repair of teeth that will ultimately be lost in a relatively short time. The effort to save teeth that


4 premed magazine at uga | February 2013


photo mikael wiman, theloushe (foter)

Spotlight | Course



A Course on Multicultural Health Care By Nupur Shah The United States has always been defined as the “land of immigrants.” With people from different nationalities and backgrounds coming into our nation everyday, it is very important to know how it affects our healthcare system. Physicians face the problem of understanding how to approach patients that are recent immigrants because those individuals may perceive information differently from their doctors than patients here in the States.

pological perspective. As stated in a previous syllabus for the class, you examine “health disparities facing different ethnic and social groups in the United States.” You also examine “statistics, the role of the current healthcare system, and the experience of being ‘at risk’ for disease.” The class brings students to focus on the way “biology and social/cultural context work together to affect both health and illness.”

This class does include a lot of reading, Lucky for us UGA students, there is an but it’s not your typical biology awesome class called Multicultural textbook reading! The course starts Health Care (ANTH 3540). This class off by giving a brief review of medical exposes students to a whole new anthropology, and then goes into array of issues the health industry details about the current trends in faces. It teaches you the multicultural our healthcare system. The students are then exposed to a more in-depth diversity values of health and illness exploration of social inequalities of ethnic groups and how it directly and health disparities, which is influences our healthcare system. then related to race/ethnicity and The major cultural groups the course racism. You end with learning about focuses on includes African Amerthe significance of immigration and icans, Hispanic Americans, Native different concepts for remedying the Americans, and Asian Americans. health disparities. Another reason it The course allows students to think is such an engaging class is because through situations from an anthrophoto dilru silva

you learn so much through many different and unique ways. You do a few current event articles in the class, which is an ideal way to directly relate what you are learning in class to real life situations. You also do an illness ethnography, where you and a few group members research health disparities regarding a specific social group. To end the class, there is usually some sort of paper which helps you put all the concepts you learned together.

35 40

This is a helpful class for any Preprofessional student. It makes you look at healthcare from a whole new perspective, and it is a great opportunity to learn this in a classroom setting. With a mix of projects and different analyses, it creates a “hands-on” learning environment. Students can have a greater focus with the little number of exams and learn through classroom discussion. So when fall registration rolls around, be sure to look out for this class to get a completely different insight into our healthcare system.

premed magazine at uga | February 2013


Spotlight | Pre-Nursing


By Samantha Swygman


re-nursing students at the University of Georgia face a number of challenges. Unlike many colleges and universities, UGA does not offer a pre-nursing track nor is it associated with a particular nursing school. Rather, many aspiring nurses must navigate nursing school prerequisites, volunteer hour requirements, and decisions about majors that will secure the classes they need without much guidance. Throughout the more recent history of UGA, pre-nursing students have tried to find ways to bind together, some more successful than others. Either way, there has been a fairly consistent gap in the guidance necessary to be accepted to each student’s nursing school of choice. In fall semester of 2011, Rosbeth LoPresti, a psychology major and current senior with a pre-nursing intent, took a leap of faith by acting on the frustration she and so many other students were experiencing in regards to a lack of communication with Georgia nursing schools. Out of this frustration, the Pre-Nursing Society was born to unite pre-nursing students to navigate the process together. With preparation from many of her previous college and life choices, she was ready to make the Pre-Nursing Society the exact group that UGA needs to successfully guide pre-nursing students to their schools of choice. Rosbeth was exposed to fields in healthcare from a young age. Her mom is a dental hygienist and in high school, Rosbeth had the opportunity to participate in a laughter therapy class. It was through this class that she had her first experience working in a hospital setting, with children in an oncology ward. She dressed in a white lab coat and red nose and was fondly known by the kids as “Dr. Ballerina” because of her love to dance.

In many ways, Rosbeth has had a “typical” college experience. She has been involved in many organizations, each of which connected her to unique opportunities both on and off campus. She has encountered a fair share of challenges to surmount in order to pursue her goals. As a freshman, her love for healthcare took her to volunteer in both a hospital and day clinic. Without a car, a bus was her only transportation and despite the inconvenience and unreliability, she

6 premed magazine at uga | February 2013

never failed to keep her commitments to these places. At both Athens Regional and Mercy Clinic Rosbeth learned how to not let technical barriers get in the way of her goals. “I visualized what I wanted to do. Then I took action. I put on my scrubs and made myself available.” In the hospital, she was a volunteer in the neonatal ward and continually pushed to be able to assist in labor and delivery. Her persistence paid off and she was often called to help in situations.

photo pre-nursing society

At Mercy Clinic as an interpreter, Rosbeth would take appointments a step further by sitting with the patients and talking with them after she had finished interpreting for the doctor. In both settings, Rosbeth was driven to care for patients as well as possible and to learn as much as she could. These positions eventually led her to unique opportunities with both a local Hispanic newspaper and a newly formed Health segment for UGA broadcasting. With all of these experiences under her belt, Rosbeth was fully prepared to tackle the challenge of establishing the Pre-Nursing Society through UGA. She invested her money and time into establishing the society through UGA, contacting students, and patiently waiting for interest. Although only two girls showed up at the first meeting that she spent weeks preparing for, the quickly growing number of emails she received from frustrated pre-nursing students around campus solidified her dedication. “Every time I received an email my heart was

photo pre-nursing society

pounding. If even five students need support, I absolutely can’t give up.” She now can convincingly say, “We need each other.” The group immediately got to work with Rosbeth in the lead . In the few months that followed, they began hosting admissions counselors, professors, and students from each of the different nursing schools around Georgia at their weekly Tuesday night meetings. They organized large-scale events such as a campus-wide bone marrow drive. With Rosbeth’s guidance, members of the society were not only finding more opportunities to be involved, but were learning how to solidify their efforts to become competitive students for nursing applications. The society identified and advertised numbers of volunteer opportunities for premed and pre-nursing students alike to become involved in. At this point in time, the society has 115 members and has continued growing each month. Rosbeth has a specific vision for the

society, which strongly reflects how she approaches daily life. Her goal is to provide a support system for pre-nursing students which includes outlets for service, nursing school assistance, and a sense of community. Even through a number of personal challenges and unexpected hoops to jump through, she has continually recommitted herself to move forward beyond her struggles and rededicate herself to the Pre-Nursing Society. “When it’s something that important to you, it requires your entire focus. Your heart and will can’t be divided to a number of different things. The success depends on how dedicated you are.” For now, her commitment to the society remains strong and although she is graduating in May, Rosbeth is working hard to maintain the quality of the society for current and prospective members by building up a new leadership team. “Someone had to dare to lead,” she says. “It is extremely important that each of us help a few others to improve the quality of this beautiful profession.”

premed magazine at uga | February 2013


Spotlight | Medical School

geffen school of medicine, ucla

THE BEST forBANG your buck

By Kathleen LaPorte

Medical school is expensive, and the cost has just gone up over the past few years. These extensive costs have prevented many students from pursuing their plans to attend medical school and have plagued medical school graduates with high amounts of debt upon graduation. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, nearly 90% of 2011 medical school students graduated in debt—averaging around $161,300. These large burdens of debt leave medical students in financially unstable situations which limit their options post graduation. As medical school tuition and fees increase, medical students find it increasingly difficult to finish their degrees.. Students who are making plans to attend medical school should look into options available for financial aid, scholarships or grants. One medical school that is making great strides to provide the best financial support for top medical students is the David Geffen School of Medicine. The David Geffen School of Medi-

cine the medical school associated with the University of California Los Angeles, provides financial aid to 97% of its students. Geffen is the only top twenty medical school in the country to also be recognized for its financial aid program--receiving a top five ranking by the U.S. News and World Report. In addition to the 97% of students that receive financial aid from the Geffen School of Medicine, 95% of students receive grants and scholarships to help pay for their medical school expenses. In 2012, David Geffen the namesake of the Geffen Medical School, donated $100 million dollars to be used for merit-based scholarships. The donation provides funds to cover the entire cost of medical school, including tuition and additional fees for up to 33 medical students per class starting with the 2013-2014 entering class. This means that up to 20% of students per class will have their entire fours years of medical school expenses covered by this scholarship fund. Beyond the resources that are provided for students financially, the academic rigor and hospitals affiliated with the Geffen School of Medicine are some of the top in the nation. The Geffen School of Medicine has 752

8 premed magazine at uga | February 2013

students enrolled in its medical programs. The curriculum follows a three phase program that starts with the study of human biology and disease, the core clinical clerkship and culminates in a fourth year college program. The student to faculty ratio is approximately 3-to-1. The Geffen School of Medicine focuses on providing the highest level of medical training and education while still instilling the importance of patient care and societal values in their students. The Geffen School of Medicine works in conjunction with Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles County-Harbor UCLA Medical Center, and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The Ronald Reagan Medical Center was ranked Best of the West for the 23rd year in a row according to the U.S. And World News Report. Students looking for a top medical college with reasonable resources and means of obtaining a medical doctorate without a massive burden of debt should look to the Geffen Medical School. The school seeks to ensure that those students with the best potential are provided with the means of becoming successful doctors, by combining top medical education programs with some of the best financial support resources.

photo ucla

Feature | Healthcare

The first steps towards reform

By Ronke Olowojesiku


The process of healthcare reform, then, is one of evolution,” says Dr. Richard Schuster of the Center for Global Health.

The federal healthcare law, the healthcare reform act, Obamacare; call it what you will, but with the reelection of President Barack Obama and the Supreme Court’s decision this past summer, the Affordable Care Act seems like it is here to stay. With many of the major provisions of this law going into effect next year in 2014, such as the expansion to Medicaid and the establishment of healthcare exchanges, I decided to sit down with Dr. Richard Schuster, a photo barack obama (foter)

University of Rochester-trained physician and the current Director of the Center for Global Health here at the University of Georgia, to gain a better understanding of healthcare reform in the United States from a global health systems perspective.

Healthcare in the United States from a Global Perspective The 2000 World Health Report, Health Systems: Improving Performance, put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), ranked the United States healthcare system 37th in the world, a statistic that has been repeated constantly throughout the healthcare reform debate. In

that same report, WHO also ranked the United States’ system as the most expensive in the world. “The United States has an extraordinarily expensive, complex, and inefficient system which delivers very inconsistent healthcare,” says Schuster. “There are some people that get very high quality healthcare, some people that get acceptable healthcare, and many people who get very low quality healthcare or no healthcare.” There have undoubtedly been many cases of individuals who have suffered greatly and have even died as a result of lack of health insurance. A study published in 2009 by the American Journal of Public Health found that

premed magazine at uga | February 2013


nearly 45,000 deaths occur annually in the United States from lack of health insurance. Thus, the need for reform is understandably necessary. But how to go about it?

A researcher of global health systems, Dr. Schuster looks at models of healthcare around the world and studies what aspects work and what aspects do not. He believes that the United States can learn much from other countries, countries like France and Germany, whose systems bear some similarities to that of the United States, but differ in that they offer universal healthcare. Schuster does, however, offer a caveat on cultural differences. “Each of those models is different and reflects the culture of the country and the politics and belief system of different countries. And so it’s not practical to expect that you can very simply import a healthcare system that is successful to the United States.” Taking lessons from other systems and adapting them to our own beliefs as a nation therefore is the key and has been a component of the debate surrounding the newly implemented healthcare law.

Birthing a new era: the Affordable Care Act

In 2010, after a long and grueling debate on Capitol Hill, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law, known simply as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare by both supporters and opponents alike, will effectively provide some 47 million individuals who were previously uninsured with health insurance and address some of the health dis-

parities affected by socioeconomic factors. However, the debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act still continues today and is just as heated as it was during its inception. “I predicted,” says Schuster, “that before the law was passed that we would give birth to a new healthcare system, but it would be an ugly baby.” The Affordable Care Act, while it will expand coverage of insured individuals greatly over the next couple of years, still will not provide for universal healthcare. The law also does not address the growing overall costs of healthcare, costs that are only going to rise with an increased pool of insured individuals in the system. Therefore, while the law does have its high points, it is no secret that more needs to be done; that this is only the beginning if the American healthcare system is to be reformed effectively. “[The Affordable Care Act] is complex, messy, inefficient, but absolutely a critical step toward the need to continue to reform healthcare in this country. And it is the beginning of a

10 premed magazine at uga | February 2013

process that then will continue over the next decade.”

The Affordable Care Act & You

With more and more talk about the changing landscape of healthcare, many physicians are concerned about the future of healthcare delivery in this era of reform. This concern is not without reason. “The model of healthcare in the United States is changing. The individual, entrepreneurial physician plays a smaller and smaller role in healthcare,” comments Schuster. As the United States moves to a more systems-based administration of care, more and more physicians are working in larger physicians groups or in hospitals. Only time can tell what this may hold in the long run, however, Schuster does encourage future physicians not to be disheartened by some of the news they might hear. “I think that future practitioners will fit into these systems successfully and effectively… in fact, I think all the pain and suffering that we’re going through right now with healthcare reform will produce a much better system of care that you will practice in.” photo fibonacci blue (foter)

Clubs in Action

By Krisi Haisler

MPSA Successfully navigating through classes on the Pre-Med track is tough, even for the most dedicated and prepared students. Medical schools are primarily concerned with an applicant’s MCAT and GPA; however they do also take other factors into consideration when deciding whether or not the applicant will get an interview. Applicants with competitive qualifications who belong to a minority are often given special consideration, based on the underrepresentation of their race in the medical field. The Minority Association of Pre-medical Students branch of the Student National Medical Association (MAPS-SNMA) is a program devoted to increasing the number of minority students in medical school who will help provide for medically underserved areas of the country.

information for minority students who are pursuing a future career in medicine. MPSA educates its members about upcoming events on campus such as community service opportunities and the dates on which certain medical schools will be visiting campus, like Morehouse and Georgia Regents University. The club also focuses on scholarships and programs set up for minority students such as the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. The Peach State LSAMP is dedicated to increasing the amount of minority students pursuing undergraduate degrees in the sciences. They offer summer workshops, tutoring, and workshops to help minority students studying the sciences succeed. Any questions students may have about how to be the best pre-med student are also answered at meetings, which are The Minority Pre-Medical Student Associa- generally held at 6:00 p.m. in the Biological tion at UGA, which is a branch of MAPS-SN- Sciences Buildings. MA, is dedicated to providing support and photo mpsa

minority pre-medical student association

premed magazine at uga | February 2013



Hammad Aslam

By Shajira Mohammed

Hammad Aslam attended UGA as an undergraduate majoring in chemistry and is now a successful third-year medical student at GHSU. In May 2009, Hammad was returning from a trip to his future medical school when suddenly he got involved in a car accident that left him with many injuries and paralyzed from the waist down. His impeccable determination to continue his dreams of becoming a doctor is what has helped him be successful on his path to achieve his dreams.

photo aasif kazi


with Hammad

What are your career goals? I want to become a doctor because I love connecting with patients and healing them. Especially now that I am in my third year rotations and get to interact with patients a lot more, I realize how much I love this profession. This is actually what I love doing and even if I was not getting paid at all, I will still love doing this. I would actually love to go around the world and do volunteer work. I feel that being able to heal someone is an honor, and it is the highest connection you can make with someone.

What activities were you involved in during your time UGA? Getting involved in many clubs is good. I know a lot of undergrads want to get involved in as many clubs as they can, but I also feel that it is important to get involved in certain things that you are truly passionate about. As an undergrad, I was a part some clubs that I was very interested in, which were not medically related. In fact, that turned out to be good for my interviews, because medical schools got to see me in a light different from my pre-medical studies. I have a friend who belonged on a dance team and was asked how an artistic view can help with the practice of medicine during one of his interviews. Such experiences can help you express your passion about medicine in different ways and can be really helpful.

What types of classes did you take as an undergraduate?

There are a lot of classes that you might not be able to take for the rest of your life, and especially if you are on the HOPE Scholarship, you have the opportunity to take something that you may never have the chance to take again. I remember one of the most interesting classes that I took was about education psychology. It was a very interesting class that I enjoyed, especially with the discussions that we had. Another one was Herbs and Medicinal Plants. I highly suggest that you take advantage of those unique classes and majors.

14 premed magazine at uga | February 2013

How has being a medical student impacted who you are? Being in medical school has completely changed who I’ve become and how I view the world. The process of getting into medical school itself has taught me a lot about discipline and prioritizing my goals. It really is possible to have a great time in college and still be pre-med; I personally had the best time of my life as an undergrad. It is important to not neglect other people because otherwise, you end up staying in a hole by yourself, which really isn’t good in the long run for most people. The first year of medical school taught me how to study rigorously and manage my time so that I was able to take care of my health, workout, and still be social. As I got to interact with patients more, I met a lot of interesting people, and I feel that I now have a much broader perspective about many things. photo gwinnett daily post

Why did you choose GHSU? I chose GHSU because of its reputation as it is one of the best schools of Georgia. I have a lot of friends who went to GHSU before me and they spoke very highly of it and got into some competitive residencies, so that was what attracted me to it.

Now that you are a medical student, how do you manage your time?

Looking back, classes in undergrad were tough but they were still easier than classes in medical school. I know everyone waits until the last minute to study but I have realized that as long as you finish what you need to get done, it is possible to be in good shape. You need to build your confidence on a subject and know your study habits.

What was the wisest thing that you did that helped you be where you are today?

I didn’t listen to anyone else and continued with medical school. A lot of people did not think I would be able to handle medical school after my accident, but I stuck to my goals. My parents were behind me one hundred percent and all of the friends and people who I was close with knew that this is what I have always wanted to do. They knew this was my goal, so they were all very supportive. Everything that I have experienced has really shaped me as a physician now.

The way I interact with patients and the way they interact with me is a lot more different than what would have been if I had not gone through the things that had occurred. Just the other day, the attending physician that I was with called me “the patient whisperer” because they realized that a patient is really calm whenever I am there. He also told me that patients really like to talk to me and find me as a source of inspiration. The patients feel that if I can go through medical school despite going through an accident that changed my life, what they go through is small compared to what I have gone through. I just really like talking to patients because I feel like I have felt most of what they have felt.

What advice would you like to give to premed students?

This is a long journey; so do not think of it as something you can excel in if you stab the people next to you. I have unfortunately seen that in a lot of premeds and medical students as well. This profession is not just a title that you can boast to people about and take home a nice paycheck. This profession is about interacting with the patient, it is about healing someone, and if you are not passionate about that then I suggest looking elsewhere. This is a long haul and it is not worth it unless you are passionate about both the good and not so good aspects of the profession. To me it is worth it because I am passionate about getting the final result of interacting with and healing the patient. It is a beautiful experience that cannot be compared to anything else. The people who are in this for the wrong intentions are probably not going to make it, but if you are in this for the right intentions, you will make it no matter what. If you’re in this with a passion, it will become a part of your life.

photo gwinnett daily post

premed magazine at uga | February 2013


Featured | Prosthetics

Prosthetics: A Source of Inspiration By Sheela Sheth

You lie in a hospital bed awaiting to hear your doctor tell you unlikely good news. He or she enters the room, and your mom holds your hand a little tighter. Your mind is in a swirl of madness and a teeny tiny bit of hope. The words “We need to amputate your arm to prevent the cancer from spreading” are uttered, but they find no place to go. You hear them, but instead of believing them, you are imagining your goals, future, and daily existence with only one arm. Life as you know it is flipped over, and you struggle to find peace with this new diagnosis. However, your mind is suddenly returned to the reality of your present environment in a hospital room when the doctor continues to speak, “A prosthetist can make an artificial but functional arm to replace it.”

16 premed magazine at uga | February 2013

every year, about 185,000 people are discharged from hospitals in the US with amputations, and prosthesis serves as a primary source for rehabilitation. The creation of prosthetic limbs have allowed people to continue to live life more normally than living without limbs, and some have even turned their loss into opportunities for incredible feats, such as in sports. Physiatrists are physicians who are trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and they aid those with artificial limbs through therapy. Throughout history, prosthetic limbs have subtly played an integral role in saving those who have suffered from disease, war, or accidents. Modern prosthesis developed after veterans of World War II demanded the US government to invest in the development of stronger and lighter prosthetic devices. The government started devoting more money given to military companies to the improvement of prosthetic devices instead of weapons, and the National Academy of Sciences created the Artificial Limb Program in 1945. The search for lighter materials and more functional parts paved the way for the more lifelike devices used today. Prosthetic devices are currently made of plastic, aluminum, and composite materials. Advances in computer technology and surgical techniques have additionally made the use of prosthetics more accessible around the world. Prosthetic limbs have improved over time, but the basic components have remained the same. The pylon is the internal skeleton, the socket is the interface between the device and the limb stump, and the suspension system keeps the device attached to the body through suction or straps. There are several ways a prosthetic limb can be controlled. The suspension system can be used to move the photo davespilbrow (foter)

amputee runner to compete at the Summer Olympics in 2012. He overcame many accidents to achieve his goal of competing against people without disabilities.

limb in certain ways, or an external motor can move the limb through different sequences of switch toggling. If the person can still contract muscles at the stump, electrodes placed there can signal the myoelectric limb to move. Currently, engineers have been working with neural interfacing which brings connections between nerves in the stwump and electrodes in the prosthetic limb that allow the person to have feelings in the limb. Advanced technology has allowed people to turn their use of prosthetic limbs into opportunities to achieve their dreams and follow their passions. Oscar Pistorius, a South African para-athlete, was born without fibulae and had his legs amputated below the knee. He learned to walk with a pair of prosthetic legs within days, and he played several sports throughout his childhood. When he was sixteen years old, he shattered his knee while playing rugby. Pistorius started running track to help his rehabilitation. He soon began training and won a gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece in 2004. Pistorius became the first

To achieve the record breaking athleticism of Pistorius or to even carry out daily activities with prosthetic limbs requires hard work and years of physical therapy. How do they learn to live with a part of their body that they cannot simply move at their pleasure? To aid amputees with prosthetic limbs overcome these barriers, a specialized physician called a physiatrist designs exercise routines and physical therapy individualized for each person’s needs. Physiatrists consider the patient as a whole person and do not pinpoint individual symptoms. They treat illnesses and injuries dealing with how people move, and they seek to improve their functional abilities through therapy. If you are interested in helping people live their lives after disease or trauma rather than just diagnosing it, the physical medicine and rehabilitation specialty might fit you. You will grow a bond with your patient and see their life improve over years. After all, what happens in the hospital room may last a few days, but after being discharged, the patient still has the rest of his or her life to live with that disability or disease. Prosthetics have helped bridge the gap between life with and without limbs, and they continue to better people’s lives everyday. Whenever you are in need of some inspiration, consider the lives of amputees who have had to learn to live life with an artificial limb and remember Pistorius’ famous quote: “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

premed magazine at uga | February 2013




What’s the

BIG DEAL with research

“One of the things that can make you stand out from the crowd – and trust me, there’s a crowd of them out there – is research.” - Dr. Stephen Hajduk, Head of Biochemistry

By Nina Paletta

Rachel Botljen and professor Mike Strand in Insect biology lab College of Agriculture and Environmental Science

Applying to medical school can be an incredibly daunting task; not only do you have to keep your GPA up, participate in extracurriculars, and find some fantastic letters of recommendation, but you also have to find a way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Think about it: out of thousands of applicants, each medical school will only take between 60-200 students per matriculating class. Those numbers are shocking to a lot of premed hopefuls. As a future med school applicant myself, I wanted to find a way to make my transcript stand out from the rest. One of the best ways to do that is through one of the most readily available resources on the University of Georgia campus: research. Every time you turn around, you hear something else about the research going on all throughout campus. From CURO research in the Honors Program, groundbreak-

18 premed magazine at uga | February 2013

ing publications from different departments making headlines, or just the posters that line the walls of the science buildings, the University of Georgia is ripe with differing research opportunities. Even though research is typically associated with scientific study, there are research opportunities in virtually every subject on campus, from foreign language, to theater, to statistics and beyond. With that kind of diversity, research opportunities are abundant; according to Dr. Stephen Hajduk, the head of the Biochemistry department, these research opportunities can be a large determining factor as to whether a medical school will accept your primary application right off the bat. Dr. Hajduk was a member on the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School admissions board for several years. He has seen a sea of applications every year, and each year he says the photo uga college of ag (foter)

same thing – “There’s lots of noise. Everyone looks the same on paper.” Evidence of an involved research term seemed to be the determining factor for many applications. According to medical school admissions boards, a strong research background shows not only the drive and determination necessary for any medical student to have but also the initiative and commitment that makes a medical student extraordinary. Although having research on your resume will give you an advantage over a handful of applicants, simply being a part of a research lab for a semester does not show a sufficient commitment to many medical school admissions boards. Dr. Hajduk recommends to “do research long enough so that you have a publication BEFORE you apply, not after.” Many students make this mistake; instead of getting into a research lab early in their undergraduate careers, students will wait until the end of their junior year or beginning of their senior year to join a project. In order to truly impress the medical school admissions boards, join a research team early enough to publish your findings formally before you send out any applications. Typically, students need to secure a spot with the research lab faculty mentor at least a semester in advance. Since this is the case, it is never too early to start looking for a prospect research position. Begin emailing professors as early as possible, even as early as your freshman year. The longer you can participate in a lab setting, the more contacts you will make; the more experience you will gain; and the more you will be able to show the medical school admissions boards.

It is easier to say that you are going to get into research than actually executing that plan – trust me, I know. To get you started, here are some general tips that will help you be well on your way to joining a research lab:


It is never too early to start looking. Take an hour out of a weekend and start looking online at different faculty projects in departments you are interested in. Most of the major department’s websites have an entire section of the page devoted to explaining all of the different research projects currently going on as well as contact information for the lab coordinators.


Contact the lab coordinators for more information well in advance. Once you find a few projects that you are interested in, email the faculty member in charge. Even if you are a semester out of wanting to start research, it is never too early to get your foot in the door. These faculty members want to see that you are proactive in your approach – they want to take on driven and determined undergraduates. Also, most faculty members recruit undergrads at least a semester in advance. These research spots are competitive, so the earlier you inquire, the better your chances of acquiring the position are.


Be persistent, but not annoying. Most lab faculty are VERY busy; emails get lost in translation, or they just forget to email you back. There is nothing wrong with not hearing back right away, so don’t panic. If you do not get an email back after a few days, email them again. Tell them you are writing to follow up on an earlier email you

sent them about their research lab. It will show them that you are serious about wanting to join the lab. Don’t, however, email them every day for two weeks. Excess is not enticing for a faculty member.


Make sure you are somewhat aware of what the lab is doing when you go to talk to the faculty coordinator. Even if you do not fully understand everything that the lab is doing, make sure you go in with questions or comments about the research prospects. For example, if the lab is researching cancer treatments and you have no idea what cancer is, the lab coordinator will not appreciate it. Be knowledgeable – do your own research and be prepared.


Be aware of the possibility of publishing. Make sure you talk to the research faculty mentor about the possibility of you publishing a paper. Let him or her know your timeline and ask whether or not it would be possible to work on a project that would lead to a publication. Like I said earlier, there are a lot of research opportunities on campus; and it is an overwhelming task to have to wade through them all on your own. That is where I come in. Every month, I will be highlighting a different research opportunity on campus. I will provide information about what each lab is researching, the prospects of their research, and who to get in touch with to ask about undergraduate opportunities. Hopefully I can help jumpstart all of your undergrad research careers, but don’t forget – research is what you put into it! Be proactive, and help yourself stand out from the crowd. Good luck!

premed magazine at uga | February 2013


Pharm Chat




By: Abigail Shell 20 premed magazine at uga | February 2013


ho would have thought when Walt Disney’s Belle was singing about her favorite book she was actually summarizing the history of pharmacy? “Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise,” serves as a refreshingly unique thesis for this topic and provides excellent framework to highlight the most legendary pharmaceutical exploits. As any author knows, the cast of characters is indispensable to a tale. Without further ado, please welcome our heroes of legend: Arab apothecaries, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, John Morgan, William Procter Jr., Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner, Joseph Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre-Joseph Pelletier, Louis Pasteur, and Alexander Fleming. Some names may be familiar while others are likely alien and strange, but although they in no way encompass the entirety of the rich saga of pharmaceutical innovation, their discoveries and contributions hold key positions in supporting the growth of modern pharmaceutical therapies. Only our antagonist still awaits introduction; garbed in flowing black, disease slithers into the spotlight. The stage is set and the actors are in position; now the plot thickens. To properly create the backdrop for the tale, the scene must first coalesce. In Belle’s words, our story begins in “far off places,” most notably, the ancient Middle East. From Babylon to Egypt to Greece and beyond, medicinal experimentation and treatment have existed for all recorded history. Pharmacy, however, did not appear as a profession separate from that of the physician until the Arabs established the first apothecary shops in Bagdad at the end of the eighth century A.D. Lack of airplanes or the Internet may have slowed the dissemination of information, but the prevalence of religious crusades insured that this revolutionary idea did not remain confined to the desert nomads. Muslim crusaders carried the photo seyed mostafa zamani (foter)

ideas to Africa, Spain, and Southern France, paving the way for pharmacy’s expansion into Europe’s cultural hubbub. Although pharmacies began to crop up throughout southern Europe following their introduction by the Muslims, pharmacy and medicine continued to be a single field until the mid thirteenth century when Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, both Emperor of Germany and King of Sicily bridged the “Oriental and Occidental worlds” by issuing an edict permanently separating pharmacists from physicians in Europe. With the scene in place, time is fleeting before the battles commence. The year is 1752, and European colonists along with their apothecaries and physicians have colonized North America. Bolstered by the advice of Benjamin Franklin, the first hospital pharmacy has begun operation in the hospital opened the previous year. John Morgan, the second to hold the position of Hospital Pharmacist played a major role in the struggle to keep Pharmacy and Medicine separate but interrelated through his advocacy of written prescriptions and impassioned speech on behalf of the specialization of pharmacy. Morgan’s influence laid the groundwork for the development of the pharmaceutical field in America. Even with secure fundamentals, the growth of pharmacy in America was shaky and disjointed. No guidelines existed for the field as a whole, and pharmacists were disconnected from each other. It was not until the mid 1850s that this crisis found a savior in William Procter Jr. A research scientist and teacher at one of the newly emerged schools of pharmacy, Procter was characterized by his dedication and innovation in the field. With the influence of his reputation, he was able to unite the scattered schools of pharmacy and research under a set of pharmaceutical standards in what came to be known as the American Pharmaceutical As-

sociation. Procter achieved much success in solving the organizational concerns of the burgeoning field, but the battles extended far beyond the administrative realm. What Belle called “magic spells,” historical pharmacists called science, and their battle was not with evil witches or wicked stepmothers, but with illness, disease, and death. Since trade opened into the countries of eastern Asia, chemists, pharmacists, and doctors had become aware of the deleterious effects of the narcotic drug opium, but they were not yet aware of its opposite face. In 1816, when German apothecary Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner was able to utilize it in as effective painkiller, doctors realized that the active ingredient in this dangerous drug could, in fact, work wonders in the alleviation of pain. Known today as it was then, this drug is morphine, a compound that proved to be a godsend in the war on suffering. Pain, however, was not the world’s only problem. For explorers and missionaries venturing into tropical areas teeming with mosquitoes, malaria was widespread and lethal. Native inhabitants of these lands in South America knew the value of the bark of the cinchona tree, but not until European scientists regained an interest in herbal remedies was this particular obstacle surmounted. Working from the tales of native Quechuas, French pharmacists Joseph Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre-Joseph Pelletier were able, in 1820, to extract from the bark the nitrogenous alkaloid effective against malaria, saving an untold number of lives. Important as this discovery was, one of pharmacy’s most revolutionary breakthroughs still lurked beyond the horizon. Belle’s final lyric speaks of “a prince in disguise,” clearly foreshadowing her own fate but also uncannily predicting the accidental findings of one Alexander Fleming in 1928. The years following the turn of the cen-

tury were plagued with outbreaks of the influenza virus, and it was this virus to which Dr. Fleming was dedicating his attention when he left a staphylococcus culture plate uncovered in his laboratory. As might be expected, mold began to grow in the nutrient-rich agar of the plate, but the mold’s ordinary behavior ended there. Upon discovery of the abandoned plate, Dr. Fleming noticed that the mold and staphylococcus had not grown together but instead were separated by a circle around the growing mold free of the bacteria otherwise populating the plate. Fascinated by his observations, Fleming conducted further experiments on the mold and realized that even in extremely diluted samples, the active substance in the mold still prevented the growth of the bacteria. Dr. Fleming was able to extract the active ingredient, giving the world the first antibiotic, one of the most effective weapons against infectious disease. For his discovery of the antibiotic penicillin, he received the Nobel Prize. Our tale has not yet reached its conclusion. The past decade alone has seen unparalleled progress in the battle against disease, but the fight has still only just begun. Belle found her prince and broke the magic spell, but we have many more diamonds in the rough to buff and polish, more pinpoint precision to install in our missiles. The conclusion to this epic has not yet been penned, and a new cast of characters stands poised to enter the fray, bringing both the wisdom of their forefathers and the innovation of their youth to the drawing board.

premed magazine at uga | February 2013


UGA Pre-Med Magazine (February 2013)  

February 2013 Issue -- Following Your Dreams/Overcoming Adversity

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you