TTUHSC, TTU Scientists Meet at First Amarillo Research Symposium

three TTUHSC students smile in front of their poster for the Amarillo Research Symposium

Traditionally, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) students, trainee researchers and faculty have showcased their research activities at events organized by individual schools or campus sites. In April, the TTUHSC Amarillo campus added a twist to that tradition by hosting the inaugural Amarillo Research Symposium.

The event brought together researchers from the TTUHSC School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Health Professions and the Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy and the Texas Tech University (TTU) School of Veterinary Medicine. Morning and afternoon sessions focused on the research accomplishments of students and faculty in their respective fields of study with poster and oral presentations.

Holly Wei, Ph.D., TTUHSC School of Nursing dean, was the keynote speaker. Her presentation was titled, “A Unified Odyssey to Promote Healthcare Interprofessional Well-being.”

woman standing in front of a research presentation poster

Students and trainees from multiple disciplines presented

Audrey DeLeon, program director of research collaboration for the TTUHSC Office of Research and Innovation, co-organized the symposium. She said the goal was to create one research-centered event for the Amarillo campus rather than having each school conduct its own.

“By including students and trainees from multiple disciplines, we tried to provide a forum that allowed organic collaboration between presenters who may never cross paths outside the symposium,” DeLeon said. “Additionally, combining researchers from both TTUHSC and TTU brought exposure to the current research at each university, helping to form new connections between the health sciences and veterinary medicine.”

DeLeon said that 113 total students presented their research at the symposium. Of those, 83 participated in poster presentations and 34 gave oral presentations. Several students participated in both. Awards were given to 11 poster presentations ($100 each) and seven oral presentations ($300 each). 

Poster presentation awards went to Hailey Campo, Hanin Diab, Mahmoud Elmahi, Esere Nesiama (presented by Nicole Vaynberg), Madison Parker and Makena Shields from the School of Medicine; Julio Zuarth Gonzalez and Yong Zhang from the Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy; Amy Sappington from the School of Nursing; and Milad Kheirvari and Luciana Kluppel from the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Man standing in front of a research presentation poster, talking to listener

The symposium fostered new transdisciplinary collaborations for complex research questions

Oral presentation awardees included Falah Abu-Hassan and Ashton Hierholzer from the School of Medicine; Yash Mehta and Prathyusha Naidu from the Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy; and Mariana Fernandez, Maria Camila Hoyos Sanchez and Tomas Lugo from the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Christine Garner, Ph.D., R.D., assistant vice president for research and assistant professor at the TTUHSC School of Medicine in Amarillo, said the event was well-received and opened the door to potential partnerships and joint efforts between TTUHSC and TTU scientists.

“The symposium sparked meaningful exchanges of ideas, fostering new transdisciplinary collaborations that are crucial for addressing today’s complex research questions,” Garner said. “Our discussions emphasized One Health — the interconnectedness of health across humans, animals and the environment.”

According to Lance R. McMahon, Ph.D., TTUHSC senior vice president of research and innovation, the event was incredibly well attended and a huge success.

“The final session of the event located in the 400-seat lecture hall of the School of Veterinary Medicine was filled to capacity with overflow attendees standing around the perimeter of the room,” McMahon said. “The culmination of this event demonstrates the striking growth of the research ecosystem in Amarillo.”

DeLeon said the quality of the presentations, the overall attendance and the positive feedback could make the Amarillo Research Symposium a blueprint for similar events on other TTUHSC campuses.

“We are excited to see the symposium continue to grow next year and beyond in both the number of participants and attendees,” DeLeon added. “The success of the inaugural year is already creating a buzz in the community that we will build on for our next symposium.”

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