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MSRPP Fellows

2022 MSRPP Fellows

The MSRPP Fellows is a competitive application-based scholarly research program tailored to single-degree Texas A&M medical students. This formal research program was launched in June 2022 with seven inaugural students conducting clinical and translational research projects across multiple TAMU clinical campuses in Texas. With a combined in-person 8-week M1/M2 summer research experience plus a longitudinal 2-semester component MSRPP Fellows prepares medical students for a life-long clinical practice that meaningfully embeds scholarly research.



Ryan Colton Betts, 2022 MSRPP Fellow
Campus:  CHI-St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital, Bryan, TX         

Research Area: Comorbidities and neurologic outcomes of COVID-19 positive stroke patients

Colton Betts, a medical student of the class of 2025 at Texas A&M University, is investigating the medical history and neurological outcomes of COVID-19 positive patients who were diagnosed with stroke at a level II primary stroke care center under the guidance of Batool Kirmani, MD, FAAN, FAES, Clinical Professor at Texas A&M University School of Medicine and Director of the CHI St. Joseph Health Epilepsy and co-director of CHI St. Joseph Neurology.

COVID-19 primarily causes upper respiratory symptoms, but emerging evidence points to vascular complications and a hypercoagulable state. Our study focuses on a comprehensive chart review of all COVID-19 positive patients treated for stroke at CHI St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital from January 1, 2020, to January 5th, 2022 to analyze history, presentations and outcomes.

Our results will help inform physicians on higher risk of neurological complications of COVID-19 infections and improve the management of patients presenting with either COVID-19 or stroke-like symptoms.



Jessie Jiang  - 2022 MSRPP Fellows
Campus: Clinical Regional Campus (Round Rock, TX) 

Research Area: Automated Infrared Pupillometry in Critically Ill Children

Mentor: Utpal Bhalala, MD, FAAP, FCCM

Jessie Jiang, a medical student of the Class of 2025 at Texas A&M University is doing a clinical research project on neurological pupil index (NPi) in critically ill children under the supervision of Utpal Bhalala, M.D., a pediatric intensivist and research advisor for Driscoll’s Children Hospital (Corpus Christi, TX).

Neurological Pupil Index (NPi) measured by automated pupillometry allows objective assessment of pupillary light reflex. NPi ranges from 0 (non-reactive) to 5 (normal). There is a growing literature on NPi in adult neurocritical care but there is a lack of sufficient data in children. We are performing a retrospective chart review of children between 1 month to 18 years admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) with diagnosis of neurologic injury from January 2019 to June 2022. We collected demographic, clinical, pupillometer, and outcome data, including mortality, Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category (PCPC), Pediatric Overall Performance Category (POPC), and Functional Status Score (FSS) at admission, at discharge, and at 6-month follow up. Our research project aims to evaluate the prognostic value of NPi in neurocritically ill children.

The outcomes of this study will help inform the clinical usefulness of pupillometer measurements in the PICU setting and better guide clinical care for children with neurological injuries.






Kaycee Nguyen, 2022 MSRPP Fellow
Campus: Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX

Research Area: Developing novel treatment options for heart failure
Mentor: Carl Tong, MD, PhD, FACC

Kaycee Nguyen, a medical student from the class 2025 at Texas A&M University is conducting a research project centered on developing a new heart failure treatment, under the mentorship of Carl Tong, MD-PhD, FACC, an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Physiology.

Heart failure has a prevalence of 6 million and incidence of 1 million per year. Interestingly, phosphorylated cardiac myosin binding protein-C (cMyBPC), which lies on the thick filament of heart muscle, accelerates force generation, and enhances relaxation. Consequently, increasing or maintaining cMyBPC phosphorylation can be a new treatment for heart failure. Evidence exists to suggest that protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) dephosphorylates cMyBPC. Her MSRPP Fellows MSE project focuses on investigating the effect of PP2A inhibition on the preservation of cMyBPC phosphorylation to improve heart function. She is also investigating the effects of the endogenous transgenic expression of GCaMP8, which is a calcium chelator-indicator, on heart contractility and function using echocardiography.

The outcomes of these studies will have a major impact on the development of novel heart failure treatments.



Jasmine Peng
-- 2022 MSRPP Fellow
Campus: Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital

Research Area: Long term outcomes of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

Mentor: Tharak Yarrabolu MD, FAAP, FACC and Utpal Bhalala MD, FAAP, FCCM

Jasmine Peng is a M2 student at Texas A&M University who is conducting a clinical research project at Driscoll Children’s Hospital (Corpus Christi, TX) in the department of Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Intensive Care. Under the mentorship of Drs. Tharak Yarrabolu and Utpal Bhalala, she is conducting a retrospective study to examine the short and long-term outcomes of children diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), which is a hyperinflammatory syndrome involving two or more organs that is associated with a previous diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. By profiling the clinical characteristics, risk factors, inflammatory markers, and immune therapies used in patients admitted into the PICU compared to those admitted outside the ICU, her project hopes to address a current major gap in scientific literature: detailing the long-term cardiac (£6 months) outcomes of children diagnosed with MIS-C, specifically focusing on serious cardiac function and coronary abnormalities.



Angela Pham - 2022 MSRPP Fellow
Campus: Baylor University Medical Center (Dallas, TX)

 Research Area: Assessing hemodynamic parameters and fluid responsiveness of pediatric patients with shock

Co-Mentors: Ravi Samraj MD, FAAP, FRCPCH and Utpal Bhalala MD, FAAP, FCCM

Angela Pham is medical student of the Class 2025 at Texas A&M University and is conducting clinical research project at Driscoll Children’s Hospital (Corpus Christi, TX) under the mentorship of Drs. Ravi Samraj and Utpal Bhalala. She is working on a quality assessment project that focuses on pediatric patients with shock who present to the emergency department at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.

Although fluid management is vital in critically ill patients with shock, excessive fluid resuscitation may also lead to volume overload. Currently, most patients are evaluated for fluid responsiveness in a subjective and clinical manner using metrics such as capillary refill time. Additionally, passive leg raise (PLR) test has been used in adult patients with shock to act as an auto-bolus. There is paucity in literature regarding PLR in pediatric shock patients. Therefore, it is important to explore methods that assess the objective hemodynamic response of patients before and after fluid resuscitation. Their team is using a non-invasive, FDA-approved device, the ICON® monitor, to monitor the hemodynamic status of the patients. The data is collected at 3 separate time points: at baseline, and following PLR test, and following intravenous fluid bolus.

The study aims to analyze the data collected from the QA/QI project to further elucidate fluid responsiveness in pediatric shock patients.



Meghana Vankina,
2022 MSRPP Fellow
Campus: Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas TX

Research Area: Examining the role of amino acid metabolism in obstructive sleep apnea patients

Mentor: Nicolaas Deutz, M.D., Ph.D.

Meghana Vankina is a medical student in the class of 2025 at Texas A&M University doing research in chronic disease under the guidance of Nicolaas Deutz, M.D., Ph.D,  Professor in Department of Kinesiology and Sport Management and Director of the Center for Translational Research in Aging & Longevity (CTRAL).

Ongoing clinical trials in his group focus on nutritional, metabolic and/or exercise interventions in senior adults with chronic diseases (such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, and obstructive sleep apnea). Emerging research shows that metabolomics play a role in sleep disorders. However, it is unclear what role metabolomics play in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The aim of our project is to examine whether disturbances exist in the kinetics of the amino acids in adults with OSA. Using the MEDIT trial database (Metabolism of Disease with Isotope Tracers), a collection of controlled trials in healthy and diseased subjects, the whole body production and interconversions of amino acids will be examined. The comprehensive metabolic data is collected through combined pulse and primed-constant infusion of multiple stable tracers. Information on disturbances of specific amino acid pathways may provide guidance in improving nutritional compositions to improve the health of OSA patients.



Jack Zeitz - 2022 MSRPP Fellow
Campus: St David’s Medical Center, Round Rock, TX

Research Area: Racial Disparities in Obstetric Anesthetic Use
Mentor: Michael Hofkamp, MD

Jack Zeitz is a second-year medical student at Texas A&M University conducting clinical research with Michael Hofkamp, MD at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Temple. They are investigating racial disparities in anesthetic use during cesarean births. This study seeks to retrospectively determine if minority women were more likely to receive general anesthesia or regional anesthesia with adjunct anesthetics than their white counterparts during a 5-year period (2017-2021) at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center.

Although regional anesthesia is the norm in cesarean sections, general anesthesia is used, when necessary, but can worsen maternal and fetal outcomes. Adjunct anesthetics (intravenous opioids given to women who receive regional anesthesia) can also be given as indicated but can negatively affect outcomes as well.

Our research seeks to give anesthesiologists a better understanding of the needs of their obstetric patients and illuminate a tendency towards racially biased care.