UMB CURE Scholars Program posts displayed by tag

The President’s Message

Check out the February issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on the Live Near Your Work Program, a look ahead to his quarterly Q&A on March 7, CURE Corner, a story on Jody Olsen’s nomination as Peace Corps director, and a safety tip on winter driving.

Chris ZangBulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAFebruary 2, 20180 comments
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School of Medicine’s Hassel Wins MLK Faculty Award

Bret Hassel, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the School of Medicine, has been a team player, helping with multiple Universitywide initiatives, since coming to UMB in 1995.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that when Kevin Cullen, MD, director of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, asked Hassel to be UMGCCC’s liaison for the UMB CURE Scholars Program that he jumped in with both feet.

“What started as a peripheral role on the UMB CURE team rapidly evolved to a more substantial commitment as I was ‘infected’ by the contagious enthusiasm for this program that has now spread as an ‘epidemic’ for the good across UMB schools and the entire city of Baltimore,” Hassel said of the UMB pipeline program that is preparing West Baltimore children for health and research careers through hands-on workshops, lab experiences, and mentorship.

“Indeed, the UMB CURE team is a microcosm of diversity that is at the heart of its goal, with each member bringing a unique skill set that fuels the program,” Hassel said.

For his contributions to CURE and many other programs at UMB and beyond that help under-represented minority students find success, Hassel will receive the Outstanding UMB Faculty Award as part of the University’s Black History Month celebration on Feb. 1.

Hassel, a member of the UMB CURE Scholars team since its inception, serving as a mentor and co-chair of the Sustainability Subcommittee that is charged with writing grant applications to fund the program, said he shares the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Recognition Award with many colleagues.

“It is a humbling honor especially in the context of the many UMB faculty and staff who are also deeply passionate about the importance of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “In that vein, the committed people that I work with are equally responsible for the success of the different outreach and education programs and should be considered as co-recipients of this award.”

In addition to the CURE Scholars, Hassel plays leadership roles in multiple National Institutes of Health-funded programs that promote minority inclusion and diversity at UMB. He has directed the School of Medicine’s Nathan Schnaper Intern Program in Translational Cancer Research for 16 years and is a member of the core team for the STAR-PREP minority postbaccalaureate program.

Most recently, Hassel received a Bridges to the Doctorate grant in partnership with Towson University to foster the progression of minority master’s degree students to PhD programs. He also contributes to minority-focused training programs at Morgan State, Coppin State, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“Bret does not treat scholar diversity as a dream, he is a team player who helps find the funds and helps build the structures to make this a reality,” said Gregory Carey, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at SOM, who nominated Hassel for the MLK award.

“Bret is focused on diversity achievement at the individual level as well,” added Carey, director of student summer research and community outreach at the school and a former MLK award winner himself. “A faculty member recently asked Dr. Hassel and I to help with a Howard Hughes research fellowship application for one of our PhD-track, African-American scholars. This talented and wonderful young lady happens to also have a certified neurocognitive disability. Bret and I responded enthusiastically! Proudly, we learned from her mentor last week that the student has been advanced to the finalist round for a Howard Hughes Medical Institute student award! What greater reward for service than to read through the letter sent by this proud young lady and celebrate her win with her? This is Dr. King’s dream and what Bret lives for.”

Hassel, who loves mentoring, teaching, and interacting with students, said he gets back more than he gives.

“Working in an environment that promotes a culture of diversity, like UMB, has allowed me to experience the benefits of a diverse workplace and understand the importance of efforts to expand this at UMB and beyond,” he said when asked why helping minorities is so important to him. “The impact of programs that advance minority representation, and benefit all parties involved, provides plenty of motivation to continue this work.”

For more on UMB’s Black History Month celebration, click here.

— Chris Zang

Chris Zang Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Community Service, Contests, Education, People, Research, UMB News, University LifeJanuary 30, 20181 comment
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Council Works to Spread Knowledge on Infectious Diseases

The Council of Infectious Diseases (CID) is an interest group within the UM School of Pharmacy’s chapter of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy – Student College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP-SCCP). Its goal is to increase awareness and educate the public about a variety of topics related to  infectious diseases (ID). The group was co-founded by two of this post’s authors — Andrew Wherley and Sumit Gandotra — through their mutual interest in infectious diseases, and it aims to help educate pharmacy students by hosting exam reviews, infectious diseases-specific tutoring events, and lectures on antimicrobial stewardship, and providing opportunities for students to shadow infectious disease pharmacists in the field.

Inspiring Future Generations

With the help of Meryam Gharbi, a fourth-year student pharmacist who previously served as president of the SCCP, and Kathleen Pincus, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) who serves as faculty advisor for ACCP-SCCP and mentor for the UMB  CURE Scholars Program, CID developed a fruitful relationship with the CURE Scholars. This relationship led to the creation of CURE-ID events at UMB’s Community Engagement Center.

Established in 2015, the UMB CURE Scholars Program strives to prepare sixth- to 12th-grade students in Baltimore for competitive, lucrative, and rewarding research and health care careers, with the specific goal of developing student interest in oncology research.

Our most recent CURE-ID event was held Nov. 19, 2017, and began with a pre-quiz led by Dijo Abraham, a third-year student pharmacist and webmaster for CID. The purpose of the pre-quiz was to introduce the activities that would take place during the event and assess the CURE Scholars’ basic knowledge of infectious diseases. After completing the pre-quiz, the 30 to 35 students in attendance were divided into groups and assigned to one of five stations, with all groups having the opportunity to rotate through each station.

All activities were led by student pharmacists from the School of Pharmacy and included:

  • First station: Led by Sumit Gandotra, this station introduced students to bacteria on agar medium, which helped them visualize the appearance of microorganisms and differentiate them based on color, colony morphology, and smell.
  • Second station: Led by second-year student pharmacist and CURE Scholars coordinator Alexis Zalewski, this station explored the topic of disease transmission. Students were given cups of water, unaware that one cup was filled with a “contaminated” solution that would turn pink when phenolphthalein — a harmless indicator often used in acid-base titrations, turning the sample pink when added to a basic solution or remaining colorless in an acidic solution — was added to the water. When students exchanged their samples and added the indicator to their cups, the person who received the basic solution (causing the water to take on a pink hue) was deemed to have a “contaminated” water sample.
  • Third station: Led by Andrew Wherley, this station assessed students’ hand-washing technique using germ glow lotion. Students applied the lotion to their hands and were encouraged to touch different surfaces, including tables and doorknobs, on their way to the restroom to wash their hands. Using a black light, the students were able verify whether they had adequately removed the “germs” from their skin and could observe how the “germs” were left behind on the surfaces they touched before washing their hands. This activity helped to reinforce the importance of hand hygiene.
  • Fourth station: Led by third-year student pharmacists and CID outreach coordinators Soeun Park and Lila Portman, this station introduced the concept of herd immunity. Students played a card game that instructed them to randomly draw a card from the deck. In the first round, the cards indicated whether a student was a “sick” or “non-vaccinated, healthy” person. The “sick” person was able to transmit his or her “disease” to the other healthy, non-vaccinated individuals. In the second round, the cards included “sick,” “vaccinated-healthy,” and “non-vaccinated healthy” individuals. Students who selected the “vaccinated-healthy” cards were able to stop the disease transmission, illustrating how individuals who are vaccinated can protect not only themselves but also others who are not vaccinated.
  • Fifth station: Led by second-year student pharmacist and CID shadowing coordinator Jordan Sachs, this station taught students about antibiotic resistance. Students learned that resistance to an antibiotic can be developed — among other causes — when patients do not complete an antibiotic course as prescribed.

To conclude the event, third-year student pharmacist and CID webmaster Waleed Khan administered a post-test to evaluate how much students learned from our activities.

Learning from the Learners

The CURE-ID events teach us, as student pharmacists and future health care providers, the importance of tailoring our communication styles to our target audience. Once we enter our profession, we will be conversing with people who span every level of the educational spectrum. However, regardless of a patient’s level of education, it is vital that our patients understand the information we convey. Working hands-on with middle-schoolers through the CURE Scholars Program presented a valuable lesson in this matter. We learned the importance of talking to the students in the same manner that we would address our adult patients, not using overly complicated terms to help keep their attention and remaining calm. These skills will be invaluable throughout our careers as pharmacists, especially when we recommend therapies to doctors, advocate for our profession to lawmakers, and, most important, when counseling our own patients.

Looking Toward the Future

The future of CID looks bright. We plan to expand our educational offerings to older adults in the near future through a new partnership with FutureCare, a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Baltimore’s Charles Village. Through this collaboration, we hope to educate the community and raise awareness about myriad topics, including:

  • Diabetic foot care
  • Hepatitis C
  • Vaccination
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hand washing, with emphasis on the prevention of difficile, a bacterium linked to a wide range of gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

Furthermore, we plan to collaborate with the Student Section of the Maryland Public Health Association (SMdPHA) to host an event focused on tuberculosis education specifically for refugees. Pharmacists have made great strides in implementing infectious disease prevention programs in health care practice, and we hope to continue this momentum moving forward through CID.

— Sumit Gandotra, Waleed Khan, Andrew Wherley, and Rachel Rowland


Sumit Gandotra Community Service, Education, University Life, USGAJanuary 5, 20180 comments
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Pharmaceutical Sciences Takes Center Stage for University’s CURE Scholars

Students from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) CURE Scholars Program visited the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy throughout the month of July to gain hands-on experience conducting research in the field of pharmaceutical sciences. The visits were organized by Lisa Jones, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy, as part of her $1.1 million CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, which supports her ongoing work to develop a new method to study the structure of cell membrane proteins in the cellular environment.

“One of the key components of the CAREER Award is that the awardee not only conducts his or her own research, but also creates an education plan aimed at fostering the development of young researchers,” says Jones. “I was thrilled to have an opportunity to collaborate with the UMB CURE Scholars Program for my education plan, and offer local middle school students a chance to conduct hands-on research in a laboratory setting at the School. I hope their time with us helped them uncover a love of science as well as a desire to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).”

Training the Next Generation of STEM Leaders

Established in 2015, the UMB CURE Scholars Program prepares middle and high school students in Baltimore for competitive, lucrative, and rewarding research and health care careers at UMB and other health institutions in the region. The program is a partnership with three public schools in West Baltimore – Franklin Square Elementary and Middle School, Green Street Academy, and Southwest Baltimore Charter School – that provides career navigation, workforce training, and mentorship to underrepresented scholars at all stages or academic and career development.

More than 20 middle school students participating in the UMB CURE Scholars Programs visited the School of Pharmacy on July 6-7 and July 13-14, where they attended brief lectures and participated in hands-on experiments related to the lecture topics in one of the School’s state-of-the-art laboratories. Topics covered during the lectures included the role of DNA in cancer, the incidence of obesity in the United States, recombinant DNA technology, and protein-based drugs. In the lab, students had an opportunity to extract DNA from strawberries and kiwis, test calories in foods such as marshmallows and popcorn, and express and purify a protein in E. coli.

“Studies have indicated that middle school is the best time to capture students’ interest in STEM,” says Jones. “However, you will be hard-pressed to capture much interest by sitting students at a desk all day. The hands-on experiments that students conducted in our lab not only reinforced lessons from our lectures, but were also fun and gave them opportunities to engage with the material and learn from each other – opportunities that they might not have in a typical middle school science classroom.”

Bringing Lessons Learned Home

Students visiting the School on July 7 also had a chance to participate in a special activity hosted by Sarah Michel, PhD, professor in PSC. Inspired by the water crisis in Flint, Mich., Michel asked students to bring a sample of tap water from their homes to test for metal ions using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) – the same method used by researchers who tested the water in Flint – in the School’s Mass Spectrometry Center. With assistance from a postdoctoral fellow and two summer interns in Michel’s laboratory, the students tested and analyzed the levels of toxic metals such as lead and cadmium, as well as non-toxic metals such as iron, zinc, and copper, in their water samples.

“Most individuals likely assume that drinking water in the U.S. is safe regardless of where one lives,” says Michel. “The Flint water crisis was an eye-opening experience for many of us, but I hope that it can serve as an example to these students of how science can help solve real life problems. The scientists who brought to light the drinking water crisis in Flint used their expertise in analytical chemistry to help uncover the lead contamination in the water and, as a result, the city, state, and country took notice. Scientists helped solve this big problem, and I want to inspire the CURE scholars to pursue science and solve other big problems.”

After speaking with students in the program, it appears that both Jones and Michel’s messages are resonating.

“Before I joined the UMB CURE Scholars Program, I thought science was mostly about reading books,” says Tyler McKenzie, a soon-to-be eighth grader at Green Street Academy. “Now, I understand that there are a lot of opportunities for me in science. I like working with my partners on the different projects and knowing that, if my ideas aren’t working, they will have other ideas that we can test, since we’re all contributing to the same project. I’m also looking forward to becoming a surgeon.”

Malissa Carroll Community Service, Education, UMB NewsJuly 28, 20170 comments
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June President's Message

June President’s Message

Check out the June issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on his State of the University Address, a story on Police Chief Tony Williams’ retirement, a look back at Commencement, a story on Matt Hourihan’s federal research budget forecast, part of the President’s Panel on Politics and Policy, a primer on why philanthropic investment in UMB is so important, a look back at year 2 of the UMB CURE Scholars Program, an invitation to Dr. Perman’s Q&A on June 19, which will include a discussion of the campus climate survey, and a roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements.

Chris Zang ABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAJune 8, 20170 comments
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May President's Message

May President’s Message

Check out the May issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on changing our logo from “The Founding Campus” to “Baltimore,” a story on Malinda Hughes, who gave her $1,500 Employee of the Year prize to the UMB CURE Scholars Program, an invitation to Dr. Perman’s State of the University Address on May 10 and commencement on May 19, a National Mental Health Awareness Month reminder about UMB’s Employee Assistance Program, a safety tip on the UMB Police Force escort service, and a roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements, including a special section on global health interprofessional projects.

Chris Zang Clinical Care, Community Service, Contests, Education, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAMay 8, 20170 comments
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January CURE Corner: Festive Fall Finish

CURE Corner is an occasional feature with noteworthy updates from UMB’s CURE Scholars Program, a pipeline initiative that prepares West Baltimore children for health and research careers through hands-on workshops, lab experiences, and mentorship. UMB’s CURE scholars are the youngest ever to participate in the National Cancer Institute’s Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) national program.

The UMB CURE Scholars Program wrapped up the fall semester with a Winter Wonderland Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 10. The day was full of holiday stores, parent workshops, guest speakers, and awards for the scholars.

Scholars began the day at the University of Maryland BioPark and the UMB Community Engagement Center to use merits that they’ve earned with good behavior to purchase gifts for their families and other scholars. Parents were treated to a parent workshop facilitated by the Community Engagement Center during this time as well.

The scholars then participated in an awards ceremony through the School of Pharmacy’s student organization A Bridge to Academic Excellence (ABAE). ABAE treated the UMB CURE scholars to raffle prizes, awards for all of the scholars, and a delicious lunch!

The afternoon was full of special guest speakers and awards given from the UMB CURE Scholars Program. UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, welcomed the scholars and their families and congratulated the scholars on an awesome first semester. Alison Lin, PhD, a program director for the Diversity Training Branch of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities of the National Cancer Institute, emphasized to the CURE scholars that they can be anything they want to be and that they are all on the track to being scientists. The scholars were then treated to a presentation by Renetta Tull, PhD, associate vice provost for graduate student development at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a global speaker for STEM equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The UMB CURE leadership team (with the help of the Baltimore Orioles mascot) presented awards to the UMB CURE community, including Scholar of the Month, Mentor of the Month, and Scholar Perfect Attendance awards. Fully admitted scholars (with no demerits for poor behavior and only one unexcused absence) received a certificate from the Baltimore City Council recognizing their achievements. Lastly, each scholar received a Mathlete Award for completing math problems during Saturday tutoring throughout the semester. A special shout out goes to Mariah Beatty, a sixth-grade scholar at Green Street Academy, for completing over 1,700 math problems since Oct. 15 and being the UMB CURE Mathlete MVP for the fall semester.

After a wonderful fall semester, the UMB CURE community is looking forward to the Science Olympiad projects that the scholars will begin in January. Stay tuned to hear about the accomplishments of the UMB CURE scholars during the Science Olympiad competition on March 4.

Emily Rencsok Community Service, Education, UMB NewsJanuary 17, 20170 comments
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Innovation Space

Success Stories From HS/HSL’s Innovation Space

The HS/HSL Innovation Space, which opened in April 2015, is one of the first pioneering makerspaces created at an academic health sciences library to support health sciences education and research. The goal of the Innovation Space is to promote and facilitate innovative and collaborative hands-on learning, teaching, and research activities centered around new maker technologies such as 3-D printing and 3-D scanning.

Almost a year and a half later, we are happy to report that all of these activities are now taking place. We see UMB graduate students and researchers creating custom lab equipment, such as 3-D scaffolds for bone tissue engineering and chronic restraint stress tubes and stoppers for mice. Teaching faculty have printed 3-D anatomical models, including a pelvis, skull, dentures, and stackable models from CT scan data, to improve students’ learning process.

Students are often seen designing and printing custom 3-D medical devices ranging from a prosthetic hand to a finger splint. Prototyping activities, such as designing a custom well plate or a 3-D model for the prosthetic nose, are happening at the HS/HSL Innovation Space. Clinicians have created a model of a wound, which they used not only to guide the surgery process but also to cover and protect the wound until the surgery was performed.

The HS/HSL Innovation Space also provides invaluable support and resources for coursework on campus. UMB students enrolled in the DPTE 528 course visited the Innovation Space and took a workshop about the applications of 3-D printing and 3-D scanning to physical therapy. Additionally, Imaging Informatics Fellows of the UMMC Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine used the Innovation Space to complete an assignment.

Since its opening, more than 120 reservations have been made for the use of the HS/HSL Innovation Space. More than 90 3-D models have been successfully printed, and over 200 faculty, students, and staff have taken the workshops on 3-D printing and 3-D modeling.

Through the Innovation Space, the HS/HSL also provides educational outreach events for youth, as shown in visits by the UMB CURE Scholars Program and the BCCC Refugee Youth Project this summer. We are excited to see the interest and excitement around the HS/HSL Innovation Space as it grows. If you would like to stay informed of the activities at the HS/HSL Innovation Space, please subscribe to our Innovation Space newsletter.

Everly Brown Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Education, People, Research, TechnologyOctober 3, 20160 comments
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President's Message September

September President’s Message

Check out the September issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman discussing the first anniversary of the UMB CURE Scholars Program; seeing the framework for the 2017-2021 strategic plan; an introduction to the chief development officer; looking ahead to the launch of the Diversity Advisory Council Speaker Series, and more.

Chris Zang ABAE, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Contests, Education, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGASeptember 7, 20160 comments
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UMB CURE Scholars Program: Become a Mentor Today!

The UMB CURE Scholars Program officially concluded its pilot year on July 31, culminating with a six-week summer component. The rising seventh-grade scholars participated in activities that included trips to the B&O Railroad Museum, the Koshland Science Museum, the National Institutes of Health labs in Bethesda, Bon Secours Hospital, and Broad Creek Memorial Scout Reservation in Whiteford. They also enjoyed lessons taught by Michelle Giglio, PhD, associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and researchers at the Maryland Proton Treatment Center. The scholars demonstrated proficiency this summer by creating thoughtful poster presentations, building dynamic robots and rockets, and giving oral presentations.

Major Outcomes

Major outcomes for year one in the UMB CURE Scholars Program include a 92.7 percent scholar retention rate, a 98.2 percent mentor retention rate, an average increase in school attendance, an average increase in performance and growth on standardized assessments, and overwhelming support from family and community members. In large part, the success of CURE is due to its mentors from all across the UMB campus who have supported students academically, socially, and emotionally.

The second cohort of CURE scholars will be admitted on Oct. 1 and the program is in need of mentors from the UMB community and elsewhere in the city. Mentors serve as a vital component to continue our work with underserved children. Learn more by attending an informational Lunch and Learn session on Sept. 13 at noon in the SMC Campus Center, Room 349, or Sept. 29 at 11:15 a.m. in the Saratoga Building, 14th floor boardroom. Register at, where donations also can be made and mentor applications can be processed.

Lauren Kareem Community Service, EducationAugust 25, 20160 comments
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UMB CURE Scholars Program

The UMB CURE Scholars Program is a groundbreaking program that prepares sixth- to 12th-grade students in Baltimore for competitive, lucrative, and rewarding research and health care careers at UMB and other health institutions in the region.

Support from individuals and companies will enable the program to touch more lives and change the trajectory of children growing up in poverty and in vulnerable situations.

Riham Keryakos ABAE, Bulletin Board, Collaboration, Community Service, Education, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB NewsMay 2, 20160 comments
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President's Message

April President’s Message

The April issue of The President’s Message is available. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on UMB’s diversity personnel analysis, a look back at the mayor’s Women’s History Month speech and Dr. Perman’s quarterly Q&A, former Chancellor Brit Kirwan’s core values speech on knowledge, the CURE Corner, an update on the UMB police escort service, and the well-attended forum on the Strategic Partnership Act.

Chris ZangClinical Care, Community Service, Education, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University LifeApril 12, 20160 comments
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