AOA honors

Medical students recognized for educational excellence

 Sam Q. Sun with Morton E. Smith, MD
Robert Boston

AOA Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship winner Sam Q. Sun with Morton E. Smith, MD.

BY Holly Edmiston

Two Washington University School of Medicine students were honored recently by Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), the national Medical Honor Society.

AOA is a professional medical organization that recognizes and advocates for excellence in scholarship and the highest ideals in the field of medicine.

First-year medical student Sam Q. Sun was awarded the 2013 Alpha Omega Alpha Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship to conduct research on risk factors for the recurrence of atypical meningiomas. Fourth-year medical student YunZu Michele Wang was the third-prize winner in the 2013 Helen H. Glaser Student Essay Award competition for her essay, “Yes, I Can: Learning to Cope with Death.”     

“Alpha Omega Alpha honors exemplary medical students from across the country each year,” says Morton E. Smith, MD, emeritus professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, associate dean emeritus, and councilor of Washington University’s AOA chapter. “We are proud of the recognition that Sam and Michele have brought to Washington University.”

Working with mentor Albert H. Kim, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, Sun is conducting a retrospective analysis of atypical meningiomas, intracranial tumors with a range of clinical outcomes. His interest is in identifying tumor characteristics associated with increased risk of recurrence and disease progression. Further, he is exploring the role of radiation as an adjuvant to standard surgical resection in the management of aggressive subtypes of atypical meningiomas.

Sun received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Olin College in Needham, Mass. At Washington University School of Medicine, Sun is the managing director and co-founder of IdeaLabs, an organization that pairs student teams with physicians to develop innovative device and IT solutions for clinical needs. During its pilot phase, 50 students worked with IdeaLabs to design and prototype concepts ranging from a communication system for disabled patients to a diagnostic tool for inpatient medicine. Sun is also co-founder of the Orthopedics Interest Group, which organizes seminars and workshops on topics in orthopedic surgery and runs a youth sports and wellness program at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club.

Robert Boston
Essay award competition third-prize winner YunZu Michele Wang with Morton E. Smith, MD.

Wang wrote her prize-winning essay as a demonstration of work she did during a reading month in her fourth year of medical school under the guidance of Elliot F. Gellman, MD, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She graduated in May 2013 with an MD degree and will train in pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center. She did her undergraduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude with Departmental Highest Honors.

Throughout medical school, Wang was involved with several student group community service activities including volunteering at local neighborhood health clinics and various service projects with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and the Asian-Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA). As a leader of the Washington University chapter of APAMSA, she initiated a program of bilingual general health education presentations and coordinated several Hepatitis B screenings in the St. Louis Asian community. With AMSA, she coordinated PharmFree week, a series of lectures and discussions introducing the problem of conflicts of interest in medicine, and through the American Medical Association (AMA), she helped to organize the first bone marrow donor registry drive on the medical school campus.

AOA has 120 chapters in medical schools throughout the United States. Each year, the organization grants more than $575,000 to medical students and faculty for awards, projects and prizes that recognize outstanding commitment and dedication to caring for others and providing high-quality health care.


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