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Release: July 13, 2000

Two UI medical students awarded Bristol-Myers fellowships

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Earl B. Maes and Susan Nicholas, fourth-year medical students at the University of Iowa, have been chosen to receive 2000 Bristol-Myers Squibb Academic Medicine fellowships.

Only 35 students were chosen nationally to receive the $6,000 award, given to minority medical students who show potential for careers in research and academic medicine. Award recipients participate in research projects under the direction of a faculty mentor at their learning institution.

Maes will study contraction of the gall bladder in response to gallstones. His mentor for the project is Joseph Cullen, M.D., UI associate professor of surgery.

Maes was surprised that he won a fellowship, saying that those who receive the award generally attend schools considered ‘elite’ for research, such as John Hopkins, Harvard or Yale.

"This shows that Iowa can compete at that level," Maes said.

Nicholas, of Morgantown, W.Va., will work with Henry Paulson, M.D., assistant professor of neurology, on a long-term study of ways to block the build-up of toxic substances in the brain and restore normal brain function.

"The key to this is finding out about the suppressors," Paulson explained. "If we can learn how to block toxicity, it can lead to treatments."

Success could lead to an understanding and ultimately treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases.

Nicholas believes the topic of the research project played an important part in helping her win the fellowship.

"It has the potential to impact a large number of people, particularly as our population ages," Nicholas said.


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