Published August 4, 2022
The honors continue to accumulate for two medical students in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Class of 2023.
Dolapo Olawunmi and Adetayo Oladele-Ajose presented their research at the Student National Medical Association’s Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC).
Both represented the school in the conference’s prestigious 2022 Wilbert C. Jordan Student Research Forum.
Olawunmi’s poster was titled “Procalcitonin-Driven Management of Young Febrile Infants and the Impact on Antibiotic Use.”
“It was such a tremendous honor to present research that I have been working on for the past year,” Olawunmi says. “To present on a national platform like AMEC — especially it being my first AMEC and poster presentation — I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Olawunmi’s research focuses on the management of young febrile infants from 29 to 60 days old and the usage of procalcitonin in the initial workup and the impact it has on antibiotic usage in the emergency department.
“This is important to me because so many parents bring their children to the hospital and have to witness them go through such extensive and invasive evaluations, including long antibiotic treatment and potential lumbar punctures and at such a young age,” she says.
Olawunmi says young infants under the age of 60 days are a population at increased risk for serious bacterial infections.
“Traditionally, such infants have received a comprehensive rule-out sepsis evaluation and empiric antibiotics when they arrive to the emergency department with a fever over 100.4 degrees to avoid the risk of severe complications,” Olawunmi says. “The hope with our research is to include the procalcitonin test in the workup to avoid unnecessarily prolonged antibiotic therapy and dosage.”
Oladele-Ajose’s poster was titled “Multivariable Biostatistical Approach to Identifying Accessible Sites of 5’ Untranslated Regions of RHO mRNA in Various Animal Models.”
“This project focuses on macular degenerations and decreasing excess metabolic burden on the retinal pigment epithelium by knocking down levels of rhodopsin (RHO) protein expression,” Oladele-Ajose said.
A challenge is to identify regions of accessibility within mRNA structure where the silencing agents could anneal. A bioinformatics approach developed in the lab of her mentor, John M. Sullivan, MD, PhD, professor of ophthalmology, called multiparameter prediction of RNA accessibility identified potential sites of accessibility in RHO 5’UTRs from 12 animal models.
“If we are able to consistently and accurately find areas of accessibility in mutant RHO protein, we may be able to design post-transcriptional gene silencing agents for the knockdown of mutant RHO protein expression,” Oladele-Ajose says. ”Ideally, this would ameliorate disease.”
She was honored to be selected to present at the event.
“It was definitely exciting to be able to represent the University at Buffalo on a national stage. It helped me grasp a deeper understanding of the concepts I am studying, and refined me into a more succinct and effective communicator and presenter,” Oladele-Ajose says. “I am truly grateful for the opportunity, and I believe we represented our home institution well.”
Her research also won best poster at the eighth annual Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Day at the Jacobs School earlier this year.
Olawunmi and Oladele-Ajose were two of a group of five Jacobs School students who were awarded the inaugural Robert Joseph Love Scholastic Leadership Award in 2021.
The award recognizes inspirational leadership for groundbreaking service and dedication to advancing the Jacobs School’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and social justice. Joseph Robert Love, MD, was the first African-American graduate with a medical degree from the University at Buffalo, and was a teacher, a physician, a priest, a politician and an activist.
Olawunmi and Oladele-Ajose were also inducted into UB’s Richard Sarkin Medical Emeritus Faculty Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society earlier this year.
“Congratulations to Adetayo and Dolapo, who are already making their mark in scientific research,” says Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. “You should be proud of your accomplishments, because we at the Jacobs School certainly are.”
AMEC 2022 took place April 13-17 In Orlando, Florida.