Niema Razavian.

Niema Razavian, a second-year medical student, will conduct research that may help lead to a more personalized form of radiation therapy for cancer patients.

Medical Student Awarded Yearlong Hughes Research Fellowship

Published April 29, 2015

“Dr. Milling, as well as fellow UB medical students, were supportive throughout the application process. ”
Niema Razavian
Second-year medical student
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The aspiring physician-scientist is one of 68 students across the nation chosen to participate. He will conduct biomedical research full time at the University of Michigan for one year, enhancing his UB medical school coursework

UB is one of 37 institutions to have a student participating in the 2015-2016 program.

Aiming to Advance Radiation Therapy

Razavian hopes his research will help lead to advances in radiation therapy for cancer patients. 

He plans to assess the role of alternative splicing in the cellular response to ionizing radiation. He aims to find out whether splicing factors can serve as a new molecular target for modulating cancer and normal cell radiosensitivity. 

“From a drug discovery perspective, this is important. While studies have already shown that signal transduction inhibitors can sensitize cancer cells to radiation, resistance does occur,” he explains.

His research is relevant to Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers that put patients at risk for secondary neoplasm following radiation therapy.

“This project — and its future directions — will provide a better understanding of the molecular radiation response and may help transform radiation therapy from a ‘blunt’ technology to one that provides personalized care,” he says.

UB Office of Medical Education Supports Students

“I learned about this research opportunity through UB’s Office of Medical Education,” says Razavian.

David A. Milling, MD, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs, was encouraging and helpful, Razavian notes. 

“Dr. Milling, as well as fellow UB medical students, were supportive throughout the application process,” he adds.

Opportunities for Professional Development

Razavian’s fellowship award amounts to more than $40,000, including support for research and professional development.

He will have opportunities to join other fellows at scientific meetings. This includes a major year-end forum in Chicago where fellows will present their research through poster presentations and receive feedback as well as interact with renowned physician-scientists.

Building on Summer Research

Razavian’s work — which will allow him to strengthen his skills in genomic research — will build on his previous investigations into radiation-induced alternative splicing.

During the summer of 2014, Razavian conducted research at the University of Michigan with Vivian Cheung, MD, who will mentor him during the upcoming year.

He gained experience with the genomic techniques used to study alternative splicing and gene expression, and he learned how to work with large sets of genomic data.

“I saw the summer research as an opportunity to branch out from my previous experiences and explore a new field: genomics and bioinformatics,” he notes.