January 12, 2022

Singh creates UAB Multidisciplinary Research Stewardship

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Singh Nikhi 2MS4 and MBA candidate Nikhi Singh and his peers have created a unique program for medical students interested in research. Through the Physician Scientist Development Office, the UAB Multidisciplinary Research Stewardship (MRS) encourages research efforts of medical students while fostering collaboration.

Singh, who went into medical school expecting to study surgery, but found a passion in plastic surgery, uncovered a need during his second and third year for a formal program dedicated to scholarly activity. “I saw a need for research support for medical students—especially those just beginning to engage in research,” he said.

The overall goals of the MRS are to form a hub of research information while simultaneously building a mentoring and networking program between students and scientists, physicians, and physician-scientists.

“I am largely involved in research myself, which started when I had the guidance of a MS3 during my first year. I was also lucky to have faculty mentors.” Singh said the guidance he received early on was very meaningful, but also by coincidence. In January of 2020, his motivation was to create a paved avenue for other medical students to guarantee mentorship instead of having to rely on chance.

Now, there are 19 student research leaders in the MRS, 71 faculty involved, and 14 residents.

Open to any level of training, the MRS welcomes all disciplines of medicine. A significant goal is to involve as many disciplines as possible in the stewardship. As of now, there are several open projects in the fields of urology, plastic surgery, orthopaedic surgery, dermatology, medical education, neurosurgery, and otolaryngology, with plans to expand to every medical specialty. To date, 105 medical students have become involved with research to some degree because of the MRS.

While one-on-one mentorship is an objective of the MRS, creating a research community is also important to Singh. “We want to get students directly connected to research while also creating a sense of community,” he said. Mentoring provides the tools needed to learn the skill set of research, while the community serves as an opportunity to learn from one another and rely on one another.

All medical students must do scholarly activity and research during their four-year curriculum. This stewardship can help students get involved and help them with their research items during their medical student career. Moreover, the MRS serves as an excellent opportunity to bolster applications for the next chapter.

Singh said his vision for the future of the MRS is contributing to UAB’s a research powerhouse—to build on what already exists with medical student efforts. “We should significantly increase the amount of student research done here.” Singh said students have a lot to offer in scholarly activity. Some students have had abstracts accepted, papers published papers published, and applied for NIH funding.

One of the MRS’s current projects is securing grants for medical student research efforts. In addition, the MRS is planning to bridge the gap between the LCME’s Careers and Medicine innovative and the Physician Scientist Development Office.

Singh said creating the stewardship would not have been possible without guidance from both seasoned and young faculty, including Timothy King, M.D., Ph.D.; Soroush Rais-Bahrami, M.D., MBA; Dean Assimos, M.D.; Kyle Wood, M.D.; and Randy Seay, M.A., MPA, MPH. In addition, Singh thanks Carter Boyd, M.D., MBA , a PGY2 plastic surgery resident at NYU Lagrone and graduate of UAB Heersink School of Medicine.

The group meets both in-person and virtually. Visit their website to learn more. Contact nsingh@uab.edu with inquires or questions.