Welcome to the Office of Special Projects

Register now for the 2nd Annual WE Summit

Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023
Time: 9am to 2pm
Location: HEC first floor

Faculty Research Mentor Opportunity Presentations
Awards for faculty research mentors and student research productivity
Writing Clinic – sign up for one-on-one assistance slots
Refreshments and lunch provided
Space is limited

Calling all medical students!

JSSOM Special Projects, the UTMB Center of Excellence for Professional Advancement and Research, the Latin Medical Student Association, the Student National Medical Association, and First in the Family, are excited to provide an amazing opportunity to all medical students to engage and network with research faculty looking to mentor student research. If you have not had many opportunities to participate in research or were unsure how to get started, this is the event for you. Faculty will be available to talk to you about research opportunities at UTMB, so bring copies of your CV/resume and/or business card.

Registration: https://forms.office.com/r/75weKV12Gz

If you are active in research and would like to be included in our research competition for the top 3 productive research students in each year, please fill out the designated research section (optional) on the registration form. Deadline to enter the competition is Friday, September 29, 2023 at 11:59 pm. The top 3 from each year will be provided with a posterboard to highlight the project of their choosing.

Calling all research faculty!

Faculty, the WE Summit is a one-of-a-kind program that emphasizes networking and pairing of medical students with faculty researchers along with recognition and celebration of their successes. We received exceptional feedback from medical students and faculty last year, and have added more networking time with the faculty and additional research opportunities. We are asking that you let us know if you are interested in participating. 

Faculty registration to attend: https://forms.office.com/r/HtcLCTXKkF

We will also be recognizing outstanding faculty research mentors based on their mentorship for the previous year as of July 2, 2022, through entrance into the competition.

Faculty competition entry: https://forms.office.com/r/aAVTtZMDS1

Questions, please contact: Dr. Soham Al Snih, Research Core Lead for COEPAR, soalsnih@utmb.edu Dr. Norma A Perez Raifaisen, PI, COEPAR, noaperez@utmb.edu  Berengaria Navarre, MS, MFA, Assistant Director, COEPAR, bcnavarr@utmb.edu  

The 2023 WE Summit is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services, HRSA, UTMB Center of Excellence for Professional Advancement and Research 1 D34HP49234‐01‐00.

The First Annual WE Summit was held on Saturday, October 8, 2022, and was attended by 80 medical students and a dozen faculty members. The event was very successful with students leaving with names and emails of potential research mentors and several projects looking to work with students. A few of our students reached an agreement for research mentorship before the end of the day.

The summit awarded 11 medical students for their research efforts:

Kendall Wermine, Andrea Francis, Brittany Miles, Alexandra Flaherty, Sheina Duncan, Sean O’Leary, Seth Buscho, Emma Rowlinson, Helen Onuorah, Jason Yeung, and Mohamed Jimale.

Drs. Mukaila Raji, Maria Belalcazar, and Lisa Campo-Engelstein were recognized for their significant research mentorship with Dr. Soham Al Snih receiving the award for Top Faculty Researcher for her extensive contributions to student success.

Special thanks to Shania Williams and Aisha Cantu for leading the volunteer efforts at the WE Summit.

We would like to recognize Shania Williams, President of the Student National Medical Association, David Garate, President of First in the Family, and Carlos Sanchez, President of the Latin Medical Student Association for all the hard work in planning and organizing this event. Thank you!


We Summit Agenda

  • Agenda

    Tentative Agenda

    Registration12 Noon – 12:10 PM
    Dr. Norma Pérez Raifaisen
    12:10 PM – 12:25 PM
    Research Presenter
    Dr. Lisa Campo-Engelstein
    12:25 PM – 12:35 PM
    Research Presenter
    Dr. Soham Al Snih
    12:35 PM – 12:45 PM
    Research Presenter
    Dr. Alfredo Torres
    12:45 PM – 12:55 PM
    Break12:55 PM – 1 PM
    Open Networking1 PM – 2 PM
    LMSA2 PM – 2:10 PM
    SNMA2:10 PM – 2:20 PM
    FiF2:20 PM – 2:30 PM
    Awards Ceremony
    Faculty and Students
    2:30 PM – 2:45 PM
    Closing Speaker:
    Dr. Charles Mouton
    2:45 PM – 3 PM
  • Stand Out Faculty Research Mentors 2022

    Dr. Zhibo Yang, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Pediatric Urgent Care


    Soham Al Snih, MD, PhD
    Assistant Dean for Doctorate of Foundational Curriculum – School of Public and Population Health (SPPH)
    Director of the Population Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Programs (SPPH)

    Dr. Al Snih has more than 20 years of experience in conducting research in Hispanic older adults, with emphasis on older Mexican Americans. Her research examines health outcomes using large datasets focusing on functional outcomes, muscle strength, disability, frailty, and health disparities in older adults. Dr. Al Snih has mentored over 50 graduate students (MS and PhD), medical students, fellows, visiting scholars, and junior faculties.

    Ghulam Ahmad Shakeel Ansari, PhD
    Professor Emeritus, Pathology
    Research Interests:
    Molecular Toxicology
    Biomarker Signatures
    Chemical-mediated Autoimmunity
    Chemical-mediated Liver Injury
    Systems Biology

    L. Maria Belalcazar, MD
    Associate Professor, Internal Medicine - Endocrinology
    Medical Director Inpatient Diabetes Programs
    Internal Medicine Clerkship Co-Director

    I enjoy working with students in the development of clinical scholarship. Our projects are patient-centered or inspired by gaps observed in the delivery of clinical care and may result in a presentation at a regional or national meeting and/or a publication. The initiative not only strengthens the student’s application to residency, their most immediate goal, but also serves to develop skills in oral and written communication, collaboration and networking.

    Lisa Campo-Engelstein, PhD
    Professor and Chari, Department of Bioethics and Health Humanities
    Director, Institute for Bioethics & Health Humanities
    Harris L. Kempner Chair in the Humanities in Medicine

    Trained in philosophy, she approaches topics in medicine from a feminist and queer perspective. She is particularly interested in how cultural norms, especially gender norms, influence science and medicine and vice versa. Her main research area is reproductive and sexual ethics, especially male contraception, fertility preservation, reproductive/sexual organ transplants, and abortion.

    Balaji Krishnan, PhD
    Associate Professor, Neurology
    The Nancy and Don Mafrige Chair in Neurodegenerative Diseases Research
    Research Interest:
    Synaptic Mechanisms Involved in Long-term Memory Mechanisms

    Mukaila Raji, MD, MSc-Pharmacology, FACP
    Professor & Director, Division of Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine
    Edgar Gnitzinger Distinguished Professor of Aging
    Professor, Department of Internal Medicine

    Dr. Raji is a two-time recipient of the Sir William Osler Excellence in Clinical Teaching Awards (2006 & 2018), America’s Top Doctor Awards in Geriatric Medicine (2017-2021), and the Top Texas Physician Awards (Texas Super Doctors, 2013-2021). Dr. Raji teaches students, residents, nurses, and fellows and serves as attending faculty on the Acute Care for the Elders Unit, Geriatric Consults, and Geriatric Clinic Service. In 2013 he was inducted into the Academy of Master Teachers.

    David Reynoso, MD, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine & Infectious Diseases
    Director, Antimicrobial Stewardship Program
    Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program
    Research Interests:
    Antimicrobial stewardship and high-value careAntimicrobial resistance 

    Dr. Reynoso is active clinically and supervises doctors in training at Jennie Sealy Hospital, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Hospital, infectious diseases and HIV clinic, and the St. Vincent’s Student clinic. He is actively involved in resident and fellow education, delivering lectures, and has taught medical students in the Practice of Medicine course. Dr. Reynoso has a particular interest improving the quality of antimicrobial use at UTMB through educational activities, prospective audit and feedback, and development of institutional guidelines for common infectious syndromes.

    Steven Wolf, MD
    Professor, Surgery
    Research Interests:
    Surgical critical care

    Zhibo Yang, MD, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
    (See photos above)