Graduation begins a new chapter apart from each other for twins

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Mark and Mike Nakhla are members of the College of Medicine Class of 2017.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Mike and Mark Nakhla are used to receiving one invitation, not two, to friend gatherings, being mistaken for each other and called each other’s name by professors and even occasionally their mom, but most of all they are used to being by each other’s side.

Commencement marks a milestone in these identical twins’ lives not only because they both will receive hard-earned diplomas from Penn State College of Medicine but also because it marks a fork in the road where Mark will head one way and Mike the other.

Ever since they came to America from their home in Alexandria, Egypt when they were just 2 years old – they marked their birthday on the airplane – the boys have lived life together. They went through primary and secondary school together, chose the same college where they both studied neuroscience and came to Penn State College of Medicine, where – wait for it – they both decided to specialize in psychiatry. (more…)

May 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm Leave a comment

Team-based learning sets College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program apart

By Carolyn Kimmel

Throughout college and graduate school, Amelia Poplawski learned very efficiently from her textbooks and lectures, so the first-year student in Penn State College of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program was surprised when a tool she had never heard of – team based learning – enhanced her studying.

“I am amazed at how much more enjoyable learning is,” said Poplawski, who was introduced to team-based learning when she sat in on a class during her interview process. “I could never have anticipated how much of an impact it would make.”

Sometimes referred to as “the flipped classroom,” team-based learning encourages the student to develop deep thinking and teamwork skills that are especially important in an increasingly team-based approach to medicine, according to Chris Bruce, program director and team-based learning coordinator of the PA Program. In comparison to other programs nationally, Penn State’s program devotes significant classroom hours weekly to true team-based learning.

The team-based learning model has three main components. Before class, students read educational materials or complete another activity. As class begins, a test is completed individually on that material. Students then join their pre-assigned group to collaborate on a group test that contains the same questions. Group members select and defend their answers; in cases of disagreement, students discuss until they select the correct answer. (more…)

May 10, 2017 at 10:19 am Leave a comment

Inspired Together: A cancer survivor’s journey from patient to Boston Marathon runner

By Carolyn Kimmel

If someone had told Tim Harner a year ago that he would run in the Boston Marathon this month, he likely would have laughed – or cried— because the number one item on his bucket list seemed so unattainable.

Yet on April 17, he crossed the finish line of one of the nation’s top races, living the message that he wants to give other cancer survivors: “Never give up hope. Live life; don’t let life live you.”

Harner, a lifelong runner, was just 29 years old when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that progresses rapidly. His diagnosis in November 2015 began a journey that would challenge his resolve to live but ultimately transform his life. (more…)

April 26, 2017 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

Gowda receives 2017 Young Investigator Award

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Dr. Chadrika Gowda with her mentor, Dr. Sinisa Dovat.

It’s been fewer than four years since Dr. Chandrika Gowda completed her fellowship with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Children’s Hospital, but she already has been recognized as one of the nation’s top young medical researchers.

Now an assistant professor of pediatrics at the College of Medicine, Dr. Gowda is a recipient of the prestigious 2017 Young Investigator Award from The American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO), an annual award that recognizes excellence in research in the field. (more…)

April 12, 2017 at 10:14 am Leave a comment

Newly-designed library illustrates modern education’s transformation

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Spaces the encourage interactions and collaboration, private meeting rooms, individual work areas and an open, bright design are some of the features of the new Harrell Health Sciences Library, Research and Learning Commons.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Third-year medical students Nathan Wong, Anne Chen and Wilson Chan munched on lunch as they talked through their notes in a group study room at the Harrell Health Sciences Library, Research and Learning Commons at Penn State College of Medicine.

To study better, they could grab a marker and write on the white board walls of the room, turning them into one large study guide with great visibility. Or they could pull up a PowerPoint presentation from class on the large screen on another wall.

“These are good spaces for students to study together; there were none here before,” Chen said. “Now the library accommodates different types of study styles. There are still cubicles if you are a self-learner, but if you are a group studier, like us, you can use one of these new rooms.”

“Our old library was old looking; this is much more a place where you want to come,” Wong said. (more…)

March 29, 2017 at 9:23 am 1 comment

Compassion + Science: Addiction research at Penn State College of Medicine

66769 LE 2By Heidi Lynn Russell

The conversation always starts the same way: “My son…” “My daughter…” “My grandchild…. has a drug problem.”

And for years, researchers at Penn State College of Medicine have been trying to solve a yearning question from people whose hearts are breaking:

“Why can’t they stop?”

But research now underway may finally unveil an answer – and some hope. Behind all of the science that goes on in sterile campus laboratories – behind the studies of rats and brain cells and clinical findings – is an understanding that many people, including those struggling with drug use, don’t always see:  Addiction to opioids alters a person’s brain chemistry, robbing them of the ability to make free-will decisions, says Dr. Sue Grigson, professor of neural and behavioral sciences. (more…)

March 23, 2017 at 7:28 am Leave a comment

Penn State Colorectal Diseases Biobank links genetics and colorectal cancer

 By Heidi Lynn Russell

What if your family’s DNA could become the blueprint for your very own precise and personalized treatment for colorectal cancer? Or, better yet, what if it could be used to help doctors screen you earlier for the disease, before it has a chance to strike?

This isn’t a science-fictional, futuristic ideal. Cutting-edge research at Penn State College of Medicine and the Penn State Colorectal Diseases Biobank is revealing how genetics play a role in treating this disease. (more…)

March 15, 2017 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

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