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MED students participate in pain, trauma, and addiction research

Mai Pham (MED’08), left, and Olga Ogai (MED’08), right, conducted research this summer on pain and addiction

As participants in this year’s Medical Student Summer Research Program at the School of Medicine, second-year students Olga Ogai and Mai Pham spent their summers conducting research for a major study on chronic pain, trauma, and addiction.

Ogai and Pham were among thirty MED class of 2008 students selected for the program and paired with a faculty mentor to conduct research in many areas. All students also received scholarships for their full-time summer research.

The two students assisted Jane Liebschutz, a MED assistant professor of medicine and director of the Preventive Medicine Residency Program, in recruiting subjects for a five-year study on the co-occurrence of substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“When new doctors go into their clinical years, they need to have an understanding of how much depth there is to their patient’s experience,” says Liebschutz. “Patients need openings to tell us things. If these students develop comfort with talking to patients about these sensitive topics, they will carry this into their practice.”

Both Pham and Ogai saw the Summer Research Program as a special opportunity to do clinical research early in their careers and to interact more with patients in a primary-care setting.

“As a future clinician, I want to be able to interact well with patients,” says Pham. “It’s been a great experience to approach and talk to so many patients about issues such as chronic pain, trauma and substance abuse.”

Adds Ogai: “Learning how to approach patients and gather information for the study was a unique chance to develop patient skills early in my career.”

Ogai and Pham will join other scholarship participants and showcase their work at MED’s Student Summer Research Symposium, scheduled for January 18, 2006.

This article originally appeared in the September, 2005 issue of MedCenter News, published by the Medical Campus’ Office of Corporate Communications.