Emmanuel Students to Present at American Transplant Congress
May 25, 2009
As an undergraduate student, getting the opportunity to even submit an abstract to a prestigious conference is a feat in itself. Being selected to present at such an event? Well, that is an unforgettable achievement.
Chosen amongst a pool of mostly post-doctorate students and hospital residents, Emmanuel College students Sam LoCascio ’09 and Christopher Borges ’10 were selected to present their research at the American Transplant Congress, held in Boston from May 30th- June 3rd. The students were invited to present after their abstract, which was judged and reviewed by an international panel of Ph.D.s and M.D.s, was deemed to be in the highest 10-20% of all submitted work.
“Probably the most impressive aspect of their acceptances was that almost every other submitted abstract was written by a full-time researcher, most likely a Ph.D., M.D., graduate student or full-time scientist,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Josef Kurtz. “In fact, I am not sure I would even need more than two hands to count the number of times I have seen an undergraduate present at a conference of this magnitude in the past 10 years. It may even be none.”
The work of the students was carried out through the Transplantation Biology Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in the BMT-Section led by Dr. Megan Sykes, Associate Director of the Center. Dr. Kurtz and Emmanuel undergraduates have been performing research at MGH for the past five years.
“One beneficial aspect of this arrangement is that the students get to observe and participate in cutting-edge research at one of the preeminent research institutions in the world,” said Dr. Kurtz. “As they participate at this high level it is great to see them also get recognized by the international field for their contributions.”
Borges and LoCascio were somewhat surprised by their selection for oral presentations at the American Transplant Congress.
“Submitting an abstract to a major conference has been a goal of mine since freshman year,” said Borges. “Watching Dr. Kurtz attend world-class research conferences has given me a desire to do the same, however, I never thought I would do so during my undergraduate career.”
Both students attribute much of their success to Dr. Kurtz, who served as an inspiration and a mentor during their research efforts.
“Submitting an abstract for professional review seemed like a great way to validate that what we as students are accomplishing is relevant and on par with the rest of the immunology and transplant research community,” said LoCascio. “Having a professor like Dr. Kurtz to keep us up-to-date on these opportunities is really helpful. He has been such a catalyst for everything we have achieved.”
The two students were proud to not only represent themselves and their research groups, but also the College at such a prestigious conference.
“I think it really speaks to the fact that some quality work is being done by Emmanuel students in this program,” said LoCascio. “The fact that Chris and I received this type of recognition makes me very excited about the future of our program and the school.”