School of Medicine Names Research Award-Winners

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Dr. Christy Bridges, Dr. Jacob Warren, Dr. Jean Sumner
Ryan Guilbault

Ryan Guilbault

MACON – Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) recently held a ceremony to honor the recipients of the 2018 MUSM Awards for Excellence in Research. The awards recognize excellence in three areas of research: faculty research, faculty research mentoring and student research.

The recipient of the 2018 Award for Excellence in Research was Dr. Jacob Warren. Dr. Warren is Rufus C. Harris Endowed Chair in Rural Health and director of the Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities. He is a behavioral epidemiologist whose research focuses on eliminating health disparities, with a particular focus on rural and minority populations.

“I do this work because I care deeply about rural areas and health equity,” said Dr. Warren. “It’s an honor to be recognized by my colleagues in this way.”

Since joining MUSM, Dr. Warren has received more than $2 million in federal research funding and published 25 peer-reviewed journal articles, two books and 12 book chapters. His work led the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to designate the Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities as an NIH Center of Excellence in 2018.

The 2018 Award for Excellence in Research Mentoring was presented to Dr. Christy Bridges. Dr. Bridges is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and director of the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences program. Her research focuses on environmental toxicants, with a particular emphasis on the effects of mercury exposure.

“I spend a lot of time working with students, and I hope to make an impact on their lives,” said Dr. Bridges. “Receiving this award is really a recognition of the success of my students.”

Dr. Bridges has mentored dozens of students in her lab, received funding from NIH to support student-engaged research, routinely included student co-authors on her research publications and had student mentees receive multiple awards for their work.

The recipient of the 2018 Award for Excellence in Student Research was Ryan Guilbault, a fourth-year medical student. Guilbault has been involved in 11 different research projects while an MUSM student, ranging from diagnostic tests for acute rhinosinusitis to the impact of rural and underserved educational experiences on eventual practice location.

He has successfully published his work in four different peer-reviewed journals and delivered seven conference presentations.

“We are very proud of the work of each of this year’s award recipients,” said Dr. Jean Sumner, dean of MUSM. “The research that Dr. Warren, Dr. Bridges and Ryan engage in helps us achieve our mission of improving the lives of rural residents throughout our state.”

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened a full four-year campus in Savannah in 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. In 2012, the School began offering clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students in Columbus. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School’s primary teaching hospitals: Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master’s degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences.

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Kyle Sears