By Wendy Sarubbi | April 1, 2011 1:41 pm

Ten students from the UCF College of Medicine attended the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) conference in Washington D.C. recently, where they learned about health-care policy, demonstrated their academic and research skills, made teddy bears for the Children’s National Medical Center and even toured the White House.

Attending the conference were M-1s Abinaya Chari, Kelly Johnson, Lena Ning, Jocelyn Ray and Deepthi Sudhakar and M-2s Sarina Amin, Uchechi Anumudu, Mabel Avilas, Katherine Ferdstadt and William Kang.

“The trip was a wonderful educational experience, both in terms of understanding health care and connecting with medical students across the country,” Abinaya said.

Sarina won the “Top Doc” award at a competition by Elsevier, the world’s leading publisher of peer-reviewed health and science information. Elsevier held a USMLE-style test for first- through fourth-year medical students who were scored on the speed and accuracy of their answers. “It was a great feeling to know that my UCF College of Medicine education has prepared me to compete against other students at the national level,” Sarina said. Uchechi received the second place award and Katherine placed seventh.

Deepthi presented a poster titled “PMP22 regulates Alpha 6 integrin expression level in human endometrial epithelial cells” based on work she did last year as a staff research associate at UCLA. Deepthi wrote the manuscript for this project and last month it was accepted for publication in the Journal of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. Deepthi studied regulation of the Alpha 6 integrin, a protein that drives cell division, movement and cell-to-cell attachments in the body. Her study looked at the levels of the protein in the uterus. Patients with conditions such as endometriosis and uterine cancer have an abnormal movement of the Alpha 6 integrin, which contributes to the onset and progression of this disease. By understanding how Alpha 6 integrin is regulated, scientists may be able to design preventative therapies at the molecular level that can keep women healthy.

“Essentially, my research has added another piece to the puzzle of Alpha 6 integrin and its role in endometrial disorders and identifies a potential target for therapy or diagnosis,” Deepthi said.

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