American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine student Prathap Jayaram will be presenting an abstract as first author, based on the results of his neuro-oncology elective at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and The Kennedy Krieger Institute at the Society of Neuro-Oncology (SNO) 15th Annual Scientific Meeting in Montreal, Canada.
A graduate from the Honors College at University of Illinois, Jayaram joined AUA in September 2007. Before attending Johns Hopkins, he also conducted research at the University of Illinois Cardiac Research Institute, where he examined the effects of how stem cells mitigate myocardial infarction. He also collaborated with physicians from the University of Pennsylvania in producing a higher functioning research portal for life sciences. Jayaram was the recipient of the Presidential Award for his preclinical science class and is more currently a recipient of the AUA Research Scholar Award for clinical sciences. At AUA, he took on a research project with two other AUA students that aimed at explaining the hemodynamic, blood movement, effects of a vertebral artery anomaly, which is a major artery located in the neck. The project was presented at two international conferences: The American Association of Anatomy (AAA) in San Diego and an American Association of Clinical Anatomy (AACA) conference in Toronto. He is still working on finishing this project with AUA Anatomy Professor Dr. Alan Hrycyshyn. On the island and during his clinical rotations, Jayaram was constantly fascinated by academics and research.
“I’ve always had an active passion for research,” said Jayaram. “As students we tend to focus on the ‘what’ but we must challenge ourselves to dig deeper and get to the ‘why’.”
Initially, Jayaram enrolled at Johns Hopkins as a visiting medical student. After applying for the elective in November 2009, he obtained his visiting medical student status in January 2010 and worked under a team of research scientists at Kennedy Krieger Institute and The John Hopkins University School of Medicine. He proceeded to take part in a study at the Hugo Moser Research Institute with a team of experts. With Jayaram‘s background in academic research, he was able to successfully integrate into such a high functioning team.
“I am really grateful to AUA for giving me this opportunity to work with the best minds in the field and be a part of such cutting-edge research,” Jayaram said. The research sought to answer why one of the deadliest primary brain tumors, glioblastoma multiforme, was overly aggressive. They discovered that a certain enzyme, ACSVL3, could reduce the tumor’s growth by eighty to ninety percent when knocked down. Jayaram’s role in the project was to fully understand how the reduced expression of ACSVL3 reduced human glioblastoma cell growth. He went about this by examining various methods involving apoptosis, programmed cell death, and autophagy – degradation of the cell’s own components.
“I strongly believe that it is important as future physicians that we become actively involved in academic research,” said Jayaram. “It is through early involvement as medical students that I believe we can start to make a positive impact in the field. I strongly encourage students to take on a research project during their clinical years.”
When he graduates, Jayaram hopes to have a career in academic medicine.