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Medical student receives fellowship to research brain damage

Jin Vivian Lee, soon a second-year medical student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is one of 60 recipients to receive a $5,000 summer research fellowship from the Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Medical Society.

The Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship Award supports Lee’s research on hemorrhages in the brain caused by ruptured aneurysms and complications that may occur in the days or weeks afterward. The specific condition, known as delayed cerebral ischemia, results in insufficient oxygen to the brain and often causes severe disability or death.

Lee has been working in the lab of Gregory J. Zipfel, MD, a Washington University professor of neurosurgery and neurology. She is researching molecular pathways that have led to reduced brain injury in mice and may help in the development of drug therapies.

“Vivian is an asset to our research team,” said Zipfel, co-director of the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center and director of the neurosurgery residence program. “She is a hard worker, detail-oriented and enthusiastic about helping patients who have suffered strokes and life-threatening brain injuries.”

The fellowship allows Lee to spend 10 weeks focused on vascular neurosurgery research. “There is nothing more fascinating than the human brain,” she said. “I developed a sense of wonder for the human brain during my undergraduate studies, when I sought to understand the biological basis of neurological disorders. I’ve been fortunate to work with remarkable mentors such as Dr. Zipfel. I am very excited to unravel more mysteries about the brain this summer.”

Only one student per school is allowed to apply to the fellowship each year. Nominations were submitted by 78 medical schools.

“The competition is impressive,” said the School of Medicine’s Morton E. Smith, MD, a professor emeritus of ophthalmology and visual sciences, associate dean emeritus and councilor for the university’s Alpha Omega Alpha chapter. “We are proud of Vivian.”