Research Ear, Hearing and Vestibular Head and Neck Cancer

Medical students present, earn recognition at national conference

Med students pose with Triologic poster
Med students Erik Nakken (left) and Smrithi Chidambaram in front of their award-winning poster.

Medical students working in research labs in the Department of Otolaryngology recently presented and earned recognition at the Triological Society’s Combined Sections Meeting, a national conference that features all otolaryngology specialties.

Erik Nakken (Washington University School of Medicine) and Smrithi Chidambaram (St. Louis University School of Medicine) scored first place for their poster presentation, Sociodemographic Disparities in HPV Negative Head and Neck Cancer. Nakken and Chidambaram are members of the lab of Jose Zevallos, MD, MPH.

Cathy Yu (Washington University School of Medicine) presented the research project she completed with faculty mentor Judy Lieu, MD.

For all three, the meeting was their first experience at a national medical conference. The academic and professional value to them did not go unnoticed.

“This was a great experience at my first medical conference, and not just for bike rides along the San Diego coast,” said Nakken. “I definitely learned a lot from other authors and presenters during the meeting, and the experience became extra special when our poster was awarded first place in the head and neck division.”

Chidambaram presenting at Triologic

Smrithi Chidambaram presents her research at the Triological Society’s Combined Sections Meeting.

Co-author Chidambaram agreed that presenting was a wonderful experience.

“I valued the opportunity to share our lab’s work on the prognostic significance of smoking in HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer at an academic and focused national forum,” she said. “I also enjoyed becoming more informed about current epidemiological, clinical and translational research in otolaryngology and specifically head and cancer.”

Med student Cathy Yu withj mentor Judy Lieu, MD

Cathy Yu (left) with her mentor Judy Lieu, MD, following her podium presentation.

Yu commented on what a great experience the conference was, even if it was a little nerve-wracking.

“I was naturally a bit anxious,” she said. “Even more daunting was having to figure out how to present all our work in such a short amount of time.”

All three are exploring interests in otolaryngology and value the opportunity to be involved in groundbreaking research in the field. For Nakken, the conference opened his eyes to the broad scope of otolaryngology, both in research and clinical practice. Chidambaram found the experience a wonderful opportunity to connect with other students and faculty within the field. Yu hopes to attend the conference again in the future.

Details of their presentations are as follows:

Podium presentation: Prognostic Significance of Smoking Status on HPV Positive Oropharyngeal Cancer Staged under the 8th Edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC-8) Staging Manual
Smrithi Chidambaram, BS, St. Louis, MO; Erik R. Nakken, BS BA, St. Louis, MO; Wade L. Thorstad, MD, St. Louis, MO; Jose P. Zevallos, MD MPH, St. Louis, MO; Angela L. Mazul, PhD MPH, St. Louis, MO

Podium presentation: Validation of the Preschool HEAR-QL Survey
Cathy Y. Yu, BS, St. Louis, MO; Donna B. Jeffe, PhD, St. Louis, MO; Margaret A. Kenna, MD MPH, Boston, MA; John A. Germiller, MD PhD, Philadelphia, PA; Judith E.C. Lieu, MD MSPH, St. Louis, MO

Poster presentation: Sociodemographic Disparities in HPV Negative Head and Neck Cancer
Erik R. Nakken, BS BA, St. Louis, MO; Smrithi Chidambaram, BS, St. Louis, MO; Wade L. Thorstad, MD, St. Louis, MO; Jose P. Zevallos, MD MPH, St. Louis, MO; Angela L. Mazul, PhD MPH, St. Louis, MO