doctor creates foundation to support research for students at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine | VTx

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Experience at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is more than learning and practicing basic and clinical sciences. In pursuit of its mission of creating the next generation of thought-leader physicians, the school emphasizes research in its curriculum.

In support of this mission, Charles J. Schleupner, an infectious disease physician at the Carilion Clinic and professor of internal medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, has established an endowment at the school that will support student research for years to come.

“It can generally be a very beneficial process to introduce students to controlled research,” Schleupner said. “Whether they are pursuing their careers to conduct research or at least know how to evaluate research published in academic journals, being able to do so effectively is critically important to what medicine is – the science of medicine. “

The first five recipients of the Schleupner Endowment spent the summer pursuing their research projects. To graduate, students must complete a four-year, hypothesis-driven project of publishable quality. Research time is built into the school’s curriculum, making the school one of the few in the country to place such an emphasis on student research.

It’s rigorous, but many admitted students cite the research program as one of the main reasons they chose the school. In fact, each member of the 2025 class had an average of over 3,000 hours of research before signing up for VTCSOM.

“VTCSOM is unique in that it provides research funds to support the research activities of each student, but research can be expensive and these student funds are limited,” said Leslie LaConte, associate dean of research. “Most student research requires additional funding, which can come from grants or scholarships like this. And prior to this year, we had no mechanism to provide stipends to students wishing to conduct research during the summer.

Schleupner said he has witnessed a steady increase in the quality of student research produced at the school.

“There is no doubt that the quality has clearly improved,” Schleupner said. He attributes this in part to the strong researchers who joined the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, which provides a number of research mentors for medical students. He said this has also happened in parallel with the evolution of the clinical faculty at the Carilion Clinic, also interested in researching and mentoring our medical students.

“It’s all in the name of advancing knowledge,” said Schleupner, who has been an active researcher during his medical career. “It is a great satisfaction for me to participate in the promotion and support of research with these future physicians.

The five research fellows, all members of the 2024 class, are:

Will Asah

Project: Design of an antibody-mimicking molecule that can cause the neutralization and inactivation of SARS-CoV-2.

Research mentors: Konark Mukherjee, Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

In his words: “I am collaborating on a basic science research project, so having more time in person (made possible thanks to the Schleupner Prize) for laboratory work with the PI (principal investigator) and the graduate student turned out to be extremely beneficial. From this experience, I was able to learn from both and really understand the nature of my project. “

Hutchings Kasen

Project: Research the use of a new peptide inhibitor P13K as a treatment for glioblastoma.

Research mentor: Zhi Sheng, Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

In his words: “The Dr. Schleupner fellowship allowed me to fully focus on my research this summer without stressing my bills. Thanks to this fellowship, I was able to spend a lot more time in the lab and I was able to make tremendous progress with the funds provided. “

Caroline kim

Project: Randomized controlled trial evaluating the additional benefit of telemedicine for preoperative counseling in patients with endometrial cancer.

Research mentors: Shannon Armbruster and David Iglesias, both gynecologist oncologists at the Carilion clinic.

In his words: “Telemedicine is a crucial part of my study. Dr. Schleupner’s student research endowment will enable my team to use specialized videography and editing software that can provide detailed insight into the user experience, which in turn has the potential to improve the quality of care. for patients with endometrial cancer and set a precedent for the use of telemedicine in other aspects of oncology care. “

Katelyn Stebbins

Project: Mapping of the non-imaging visual pathway in the ventral lateral geniculate nucleus of mice.

Research mentor: Michael Fox, Professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and Director of the School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech College of Science.

In his words: “As a first year MD / Ph.D. Student, this research grant allowed me to get involved earlier in my new laboratory and to lay the foundations for my thesis project. Dr. Schleupner’s endowment directly supporting the research efforts of prospective students demonstrates the value VTC places on clinically meaningful and relevant research throughout the four years of medical school; it’s not an afterthought, it’s a priority. “

Benjamin Tintera

Project: To work to identify a new drug target that will potentiate the immune-mediated destruction of pancreatic cancer cells observed after the use of tumor ablation therapies.

Research mentor: Irving Coy Allen, Associate Professor of Inflammatory Diseases at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

In his words: “With step 1 (medical license exam) passing / failing for our promotion and future promotions, research will be even more prominent in our residency applications. Dr. Schleupner’s generous donation has enabled me and my fellow recipients to do more in-depth research that is meaningful to us, while strengthening our residency demands in the future. “


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