New supports for medical student research

Dear learners, faculty and staff,

I hope you are enjoying the first few weeks of the new academic term.Devinder Mougdil

This past year, it was quite impressive to see the speed at which the scientific community worked together to develop vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientific achievements such as this continue to have remarkable impacts and improve our quality of life, and emphasize a strong need to integrate research into the curriculum of all our education programs.

Recognizing the critical role research plays in furthering medical knowledge and training, a new position, Medical Student Research Associate (RA), has been introduced to support Windsor Campus students’ research endeavours.

I am delighted to take on this new role as part of a unique collaboration between the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, the University of Windsor, and WE-SPARK Health Institute. My priorities are to engage with, coordinate, and support students' research activities, provide leadership on integrating students into the local research ecosystem, and to lead the research component of the medical learners’ curriculum at the Schulich Medicine – Windsor Campus.

The Research Module in Experiential Learning provides an opportunity for medical students to conduct hands-on research. This course is a required module for graduation to ensure students acquire critical research knowledge and teaches them to be life-long learners and problem solvers.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the pivot to online instruction presented a challenge for conducting research, but faculty supervisors and students have found ways to work together effectively. Kendra Naismith, Medicine Class of 2023, and Dr. Caroline Hamm, Division Head, Windsor Oncology, recently published their case report, “A Rare Case of Factor VII Inhibitor in a Patient Presenting with Primary Splenic Marginal Zone Lymphoma.” Dr. Hamm and many other local clinicians advocate for clinical research opportunities for the Schulich Medicine - Windsor Campus students and are eager to engage students in improving clinical care outcomes through research.

To all interested in conducting a funded summer research project, stay tuned for the announcement of the 2022 Schulich-UWindsor Opportunities for Research Program, a competitive program for first- and second-year Schulich Medicine - Windsor Campus students.

In Windsor-Essex, health research is guided by the vision and activities of WE-SPARK Health Institute. Working as part of the WE-SPARK team, I will be developing a research toolkit for medical students, incorporating inclusive research practices, and organizing educational events. Many research resources and tools are already available on the WE-SPARK website, such as a researcher's toolkit, information regarding networking sessions, REDCap database access and local funding opportunities.

In my current role, I will be providing resources, guidance, and administrative assistance for all research areas to medical students. This support spans guidance on finding a research mentor, obtaining necessary research clearances, statistical analysis support, accessing hospital or other core facilities on-campus and applying for and accessing grant funding.

My commitment to engaging students in research stems from my own research experiences, and I remain passionate about continuing this journey and inspiring emerging researchers.

I am a scientist by training and have a doctoral degree in oncology from the University of Alberta. I have experience with every aspect of the research process, from the lab to clinical practice. In my graduate research work, I transfected fluorescent-labeled Spindly protein into human cells and then used confocal microscopy to understand the function of Spindly during cell division.

Most recently, I worked at the Office of Research and Innovation Services at the University of Windsor, where I supported new technology protection and commercialization by coordinating patent filing processes.

The opportunity to connect students with experts working in different health research fields and supporting their learning is gratifying, and I am excited about working closely with medical students and faculty members to grow research capacity.

I welcome any opportunity to hear your research ideas and would love to connect to discuss how I can support your research projects.

All the best,

Devinder Moudgil, PhD
Medical Student Research Associate
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and WE-SPARK Health Sciences Institute