Highlights of the 2022 JABSOM Biomedical Sciences and Health Disparities Symposium

By Saguna Verma


The 2022 JABSOM Biomedical Sciences and Health Disparities Symposium for graduate students moved from a virtual to an in-person format this year and was held in the Sullivan Center at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center on April 7, 2022. The students were very excited about presenting their research in the poster format after two years. The symposium was a tremendous success, with over 65 posters presented in two sessions. A total of 20 posters were presented by MS and PhD students working in the Tropical Medicine department. The wide range of research topics included immunity and pathogenesis studies, vaccine development, and seroprevalence studies of different pathogens, including HIV, Ebola virus, and SARS-CoV-2.

Tropical Medicine students, postdocs and faculty with Guest Speaker Dr. Jae Jung. Bottom row, l to r: Dr. Albert To, Dr. Alanna Tseng, Olivia Smith, Dr. Jung, Dr. Rodson Zorilla, Dr. Juwon Park; top row, l to r: Bryan Rios, Troy Odo, Stefanos Giannakopoulous, Mallory Wilson, Eduardo Gamez, Jack Heckl, Logan Dean.

The best poster award was shared by Ms. Aquena Ball and Mr. Stefanos Giannakapoulos who work on the Ebola vaccine and SARS-CoV-2-associated organ injury, respectively. In addition, Mr. Brien Haun’s poster on B-cell receptor sequencing for in depth vaccine analysis received Honorable mention. We are very proud of our students’ achievements.

The Keynote speaker, Dr. Jae U Jung, who is an eminent virologist from the Cleveland Clinic, presented fascinating findings from his studies on complications of Zika and SARS-CoV-2 virus infection during pregnancy. He also interacted with TropMed students and faculty on April 8th, where he shared his experiences and insights on different topics, including challenges in clinical research and research funding.

Meeting with Dr. Jung was inspiring for many diverse reasons. His shared excerpts were rich in career advice that was succinct and easy to digest and he was also gracious enough to share personal development tips and relatable stories. He was very personable and approachable which made our opportunity to learn from him a very cherished one. I hope to cross his path again in the future and feel very grateful that our department set aside time for us to interact with him.

Mallory Wilson

In the short time we spoke with him, Dr. Jung shared his insight and offered great advice based on his inspiring career. He was very personable and answered our questions with honesty. It was a pleasure listening to him speak in a small group setting following a great keynote presentation.

Eduardo Gamez