Drumming to the Beat of Discovery: Student Research Week

The drumline is the heartbeat of a marching band. Jeremy Thompson spent years performing as a percussionist and serving as tenor section leader in the drumline at both high school and college. The skills he learned working as a team and preparing his section for performances have now translated to his new role as the event chair of the Student Research Week committee.

Every year, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences students organize Student Research Week to showcase the next generation of biomedical researchers and their work and invite distinguished speakers to present discoveries on a specific theme. Thompson along with the Student Research Week committee of Antonia Stuebler, Kellsie Beasley and Ty Whisenant have worked to bring together this annual event.

student research week

Student Jeremy Thompson

For Thompson, research has been in sight as early as he can remember. He lived in Houston most of his life. The son of engineers, he knew early on he wanted to combine science and engineering in his career. Thompson completed his undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville before heading back to Texas.


Now an M.D./Ph.D. student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Thompson is enjoying studying the best of worlds, medicine and research.


“I love research,” Thompson said. “I enjoy the ability to discover new things about how the body works and to think about ways to practically implement that knowledge to improve patient care. The M.D./Ph.D. track is appealing because it allows physician-scientists to practice medicine, identify medical needs and take that information into the lab to make discoveries that could make a difference to their patients.”


Currently, Thompson is working on his last year of his Ph.D. before completing his third and fourth years of medical school. His mentor is Volker Neugebauer, M.D., Ph.D., and he conducts neuroscience research in pain.


“Pain is a really interesting research area because it is very common, difficult to treat and has important emotional components that aren’t often studied,” Thompson said. “We use different models to investigate pain in brain regions associated with emotion like the amygdala that also are involved in pain processing. By manipulating those brain areas, we could have a two-hit approach to treatment by addressing both sensory and emotional aspects of pain.”


His research involves looking at particular types of potassium channel in the amygdala and investigating the possibility of targeting it as a new way to treat pain. After medical school, Thompson hopes to practice in Texas possibly in the internal medicine field.


“Texas has been home for most of my life,” Thompson said. “It’s a nice place and I like the people here. I think I would enjoy internal medicine because of the broad scope of the field. Internists see many different kinds of patients and conditions, and I enjoy the problem solving that comes with dealing with a complex case.”


Thompson’s research has given him the opportunity to get involved by submitting abstracts for Student Research Week each year.


“I wanted to get more involved this year,” Thompson said. “As this year’s event chair, Student Research Week has been a great experience.  We have worked hard as a committee to bring this event together. It is an opportunity to see what others are doing in research.”

The theme for this year’s Student Research Week is “Molecular Neuroscience and Systems: From Nucleotides to Networks.”

“Our theme aims to broadly capture how the nervous system works by connecting complex neural circuitry to small-scale effectors, and will be featured with our keynote speakers whose research explores molecular and systems-level neuroscience,” Thompson said. “When looking for speakers, we wanted to pick neuroscientists covering the spectrum from purely molecular approaches to those investigating how neurons function in circuits. We are excited that all of our schools are involved in Student Research Week and hope everyone takes time to participate in the week’s events.”

student research week

Student Research Week keynote speakers are:

Jon H. Kaas, Ph.D.,is aDistinguished, Centennial Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University. His current research includes investigations of the somatosensory, auditory and motor systems, as well as the study of brain material obtained after natural death.


Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, Ph.D., is the scientific director of the Mass General Research Institute (MGH).  She also is a professor in the Department of Neurology at MGH and Harvard Medical School, an investigator in the Center for Human Genetic Research at MGH and the Elizabeth Riley and Dan E. Smith, Jr. MGH Research Scholar. Slaugenhaupt's research focuses on two neurological disorders, familial dysautonomia (FD) and mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV), as well as the common cardiac disorder mitral valve prolapse (MVP).


Student Research Week events include:

March 7(Tuesday)

Vendor Show, 9 a.m. to noon (TTUHSC 5BC lobby)


March 8 (Wednesday)

Academic Classroom Building, first and second floor lobby areas

Poster session I, 8 a.m. to noon

Poster session II, 1 to 4 p.m.

Poster exhibit I, 4 to 5 p.m.


Student Research Week Donor Reception

      6 to 7 p.m. (Academic Classroom Building, first floor lobby)

      Invitations limited to donors and alumni

March 9 (Thursday)

Poster session III, 8 a.m. to noon. (Academic Classroom Building, first floor lobby)

Poster session IV, 1 to 4 p.m. (Academic Classroom Building, first floor lobby)

Poster exhibit II, 4 to 5 p.m. (Academic Classroom Building, first floor lobby)


Student Research Week Banquet

7 p.m. (Frazier Alumni Center)

      Invitations limited to faculty, students, donors and alumni


March 10 (Friday)

  • Breakfast, 9 to 9:25 a.m. (Academic Classroom Building, Room 100)
  • Select student presentations, 9:30 to 11 a.m. (Academic Classroom Building, Room 100)
  • Welcome to Keynote Speakers, 10:45 to 11:00 a.m. (Academic Classroom Building, Room 100)
  • Keynote I (Kaas), 11 a.m. to noon (Academic Classroom Building, Room 100)
  • Lunch, noon to 1 p.m. (Academic Classroom Building, first floor lobby)
  • Keynote II (Slaugenhaupt), 1 to 2 p.m. (Academic Classroom Building, Room 100)
  • Student Research Week Awards Ceremony, 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Academic Classroom Building, Room 100)
  • Student coffee with speakers, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. (Academic Classroom Building, Room 100)

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