Medical Student Projects

Introduction: UNM Medical Student Projects in the Department of Pathology

UNM Medical students have access to excellent, concise research projects, sponsored by interested UNM Pathology faculty. Projects are short, discrete and able to be completed during 2nd year of medical school. Medical students receive specific guidance from a physician mentor during the project's protocol development and approval process.

Project Descriptions

Below are descriptions of Medical Student Research Projects associated with UNM Department of Pathology faculty. The faculty contact information is included in the project description. Please contact each faculty member, directly.

  1. Dr. Judy Cannon is interested in the basic molecular mechanisms that drive how normal and leukemic T cells move throughout the body. T cells are a crucial effector cell type of the immune system required to clear infections. T cells must migrate from lymph nodes to infection sites to activate then clear infections. Our lab uses a variety of mouse models to study the molecules that are important for T cells to migrate normally. In addition, we are interested in what leads to leukemic T cell migration to different organs.

    Possible medical student projects include:

    1. Use microscopy techniques to study how specific molecules affect T cell movement in tissues during infection.

    2. Identify potential molecules that are involved in T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia migration.

    Please contact Dr. Cannon at or 505-272-5764 to discuss these projects.

  2. Medical students interested in a more intensive laboratory immersion experience are encouraged to contact Dr. Angela Wandinger-Ness (PhD). Research centers on the biochemical regulation of signaling and membrane trafficking by Ras-family GTPases, which are central to normal cell and tissue architecture and function. Projects focus on determining how disruption of GTPase regulated pathways leads to disease and the use of small molecule inhibitors for therapeutic intervention. Disease focused research is in three areas: autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, ovarian cancer and peripheral neuropathies.

    Possible medical student projects include:

    1. Analysis of ovarian cancer tissues and cell lines for hyperactivation of Rho GTPase pathways through immunohistochemical staining and biochemical assays (in collaboration with Pathologist and Ob/Gyn specialist, Dr. Lesley Lomo)

    2. Evaluation of the effects of a novel guanine nucleotide binding inhibitor on growth factor receptor signaling and membrane trafficking in neuronal cell lines.

    3. Analysis of primary ovarian cell isolates for Rho GTPase inhibition in response to select NSAID administration for pain relief (part of a funded pilot clinical trial with Ob/Gyn oncologist and surgeon, Dr. Carolyn Muller and pharmaceutical sciences specialist, Dr. Laurie Hudson)

    Former UNM medical student trainees:

    • Ursa Brown-Glaberman, MD (2006). Dept. Pathology post-sophomore fellow (July-Dec. 2003). Internal Medicine residency (2006-2009), University of AZ. Fellow Hematology and Medical Oncology (2009-present), University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, AZ.

    • Brandon Peterson, MD (2010). Evans Scholarship recipient (2008); Recipient UNM Medical Student Award (2008); Oral Presentation Western Student Medical Research Forum and Winner Subspecialty Award, Carmel, CA (May 2010); Faculty Commendation in Research (2010); Alpha Omega Alpha (2010); Faculty Award for Excellence (2010). MD graduate 2010. Residency University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

    Please contact Dr. Angela Wandinger-Ness at 272-1459 or for more information regarding these projects.

SOM Home Page and Research Project Links

Below are UNM School of Medicine (SOM) links to the SOM home page and to the Medical Student Research resources, which provide access to the required research project forms and deadlines.