Some students go on to publish multiple papers during their time at the medical school—or have had the opportunity to do so even before, as was the case for Bradley Gill.
A fifth-year student in the college program (see page 21) with a master’s in biomedical engineering, Gill has published 10 papers since his undergraduate years at Case Western Reserve—five of which he was the lead researcher on—and has three more in the process of being published now, all of which he was the lead on.
Gill became interested in urology in college, with a particular interest in incontinence treatments, because he has a sister with spina bifida who suffers from incontinence. “I can see firsthand that the kind of benefit that this research could provide patients would be monumental,” he says. One of the topics he’s researched as a medical student is the effectiveness of sacral nerve stimulation.
During the clinical research component between Gill’s first and second year, clinical collaborators took a look at his background. “They said, you’re an engineer. You did nerve stimulation stuff. You came from Case Western Reserve. We do a lot of sacral nerve stimulation. What do you think about getting involved in some research for that?” Gill jumped at the chance. He and his team surveyed and examined women before and after they received sacral nerve stimulation to find out whether the improvements in urinary and bowel incontinence improved their quality of life ratings.
Their findings, published in the International Urogynecology Journal in September 2011, reported that urinary incontinence symptom scores improved significantly after sacral nerve stimulation, and led to significant quality of life score improvement. For bowel incontinence, symptoms also improved after sacral nerve stimulation, but this did not translate into significant quality of life changes.
Even though Gill already had experience as a researcher when he entered medical school, he learned from the faculty how to balance research with his other work. “We’re fortunate that we have dedicated time in our curriculum to do research—but for the most part, I’d say the bulk of the work that I’ve done, I’ve squeezed into my free time,” he says. “I challenge myself to emulate my mentors and the faculty that I look up to, how they do research, and how, as surgeon-scientists, they tie that into their schedules.”
Linda Graham, MD, assistant dean of research for the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve, says many students in the program experience success like Gill. “They do a tremendous job. They put a lot of energy into the research, and we’ve had students that have had papers published after just a summer of research,” she says.