UH Med Now

First-year medical student’s dementia study places first at 2017 Hawai’i NEURO event

Date: September 11th, 2017 in Faculty, JABSOM News, Student Life    Print or PDF

A group shot from the awards ceremony at NEURO 2017.

Pictured: Dr. Enrique Carrazana, Dr. Pat Borman, Dr. Jason Viereck, Jason Ocol, MD Candidate Bryce Kalei Chang, Richard Ho, Dr. Beau Nakamoto, Mitsuki Ota, and Dr. Kore Kai Liow.

By Chloe Williams and Catherine Chao, Special for UH Med Now

More than 100 people joined the 2017 Hawaiʻi NEURO (Neuroscience EdUcation and Research Outreach) event hosted by the Hawaiʻi Pacific Neuroscience Clinical Research Center (CRC) at the St. Francis campus in Honolulu.

The event commemorated the Hawaiʻi Pacific Neuroscience’s Summer Internship Program (HPN-SIP) in which the CRC opened its doors to more than 30 residents, medical students and graduate and undergraduate students from across the U.S. The research students capped off a productive summer where students worked alongside Hawaiʻi’s leading neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, geriatrician and researchers in establishing meaningful partnerships while earning a world class neuroscience education.

“We are honored to help shape the educational future of more than 30 residents and students who participated in our summer internship, especially the team leaders Dr. Michael Yang, Bryce Kalei Chang (JABSOM), Heather Acidera (UCLA), Jason Lau (Boston U), Jasen Ocol (UH Mānoa), Alec Shepherd (Western Washington University) and Mitsuki Ota (Punahou),” said Dr. Kore Kai Liow, JABSOM Clinical Professor of Neurology, Director of Hawaiʻi Pacific Neuroscience and Principal Investigator, Clinical Research Center. “Providing state of the art clinical research to patients from Hawaiʻi and the Mainland is one of HPN’s top priorities, ensuring our expert team remains at the forefront modern medicine while treating patients with the expertise they need and the care they deserve.”

Bryce Kalei Chang, MD Candidate, JABSOM Class of 2021

The panel of neuroscience faculty judges named Bryce Kalei Chang, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) first-year medical student, the winner of the student research project. Bryce’s presentation on dementia was selected as the 2017 Hawaiʻi NEURO poster of the year. The winning abstract was titled “Psychosocial Factors Predictive of Agitation in Ethnically Diverse Patients with Dementia.”

“Everything we do is all for our patients,” said Bryce. “I’m grateful to and blessed to have shared Hawaiʻi NEURO with our patients and their advocates.”

Bryce’s project analyzed a range of factors associated with the development of agitation among patients of racially diverse backgrounds with dementia. This research was no easy feat. Bryce’s team examined charts of 350 patients with the following characteristics:

135 men
215 women
107 were Asian (30.6%)
95 were Caucasian (27.1%)
55 were Pacific Islander (15.7%)
109 patients were agitated, and 241 were not agitated.

The researchers found that, as with previous studies focusing on predominantly white patients, decreased cognitive function is a strong predictor of agitation in dementia patients. Cognitive impairment underlies other factors found to be associated with agitation in dementia patients such as sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety. Psychosocial factors, such as depression and anxiety, are clinically important as they exacerbate caregiver burden.

“My time spent doing research, clinical work, and even watching things as routine as a blood draw from a patient, have proved to me that this is the type of work that I am passionate about and that this is the type of work that I want to spend the rest of my life doing,” shared Daniel Ota, student at Creighton University. “This internship has also opened up a possible door to a future in neuroscience for me, as I see potential for myself working in this specific field of medicine.”

Keynote Speakers
The keynote speaker for the event was Traumatic Brain Injury expert Henry Lew, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair of the JABSOM Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders, and co-author (with David X. Cifu) of Braddom’s Rehabilitation Care. Dr. Lew spoke about his life and career in Academic Medicine and Clinical Research in head injuries. Dr. Lew shared his extensive knowledge of treating patients with traumatic brain injury as well as musculoskeletal and sports injuries. He spoke at length regarding current clinical trials to treat TBI (traumatic brain injury), encouraging students to adopt a “holistic approach” when learning about TBI as well as any other medical condition. Above all, Dr. Lew advised the students to “work hard” and seek opportunities in a breadth of specialties.

Dr. Lew’s wisdom rang true for Carol Lu especially, a high school student whose ambition founded her success in the SIP program.

“Hawaiʻi Pacific Neuroscience has been my starting point, and I want it to be my returning point as well. I hope to be able to participate in future summer internships at HPN, even as I go away for college because the learning I’ve gained from here has been exponential, and I know there is always something new to learn,” said Carol Lu, Moanalua High School, Class of 2018.

Also speaking at the conference was Enrique Carrazana, MD, a neurologist, whose talk was titled, “Bench to Bedside Translational Neuroscience”.

Other contributors to the success of the event included neurologist Dr. Jason Viereck, Dr. Pat Borman, Dr. Rachel Baek, Dr. Paul Adapon, Keith Weber, Christalyn Orupabo, Catherine Chao, Ashlea Chandler, Chloe Williams and community neurologist Dr. Beau Nakamoto. Some of the island’s largest community organizations joined the event to support the milestones in clinical research and the students who dedicated their summer to making a definitive impact including the Parkinson’s Association, Epilepsy Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association and National MS Society.

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