DMU student Jason Sebesto turned a summer research project into a full-blown clinical research project that put him at the podium during the American College of Physicians annual internal medicine meeting in Philadelphia in April.
A second-year D.O. student who’s also pursuing a M.S. in anatomy, Sebesto was among the 10 students who won ACP’s abstract competition, held in conjunction with its annual meeting. More than 200 abstracts were submitted, and more than 6,000 internists attended the three-day meeting.
“It was inspirational to talk with real, seasoned professionals in internal medicine,” Sebesto says. “Fewer people are going into internal medicine, so it was encouraging to see all that’s going on in the field and meet doctors who are genuinely happy about what they’re doing.”
In his research with Jeff Gray, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology, Sebesto is exploring ways to reduce infections in patients who use needleless catheter ports, the topic of his abstract. The devices allow hospitalized patients to receive a steady supply of medications or fluids while reducing risk of needle sticks; however, these patients can be susceptible to bloodstream infections caused by microbes that enter the ports.
“These infections are prevalent in intensive care units. They’re the second-leading cause of death,” Sebesto notes. “But when such patients show signs of infection, the doctor has to wait two or three days to get results from a culture to find out what’s causing it.”
That led Sebesto and Gray to develop a technique of “amplifying” DNA in a way that lets scientists rapidly rapid detect specific bacteria – and, hence, identify the best way to treat the resulting infection. They plan to investigate real patient ports at a local hospital to compare their method of bacteria detection with the current slower method.
Sebesto is one of the first six DMU students chosen for the University’s new Pathways of Distinction program, which offers students a tuition scholarship and in-depth, hands-on opportunities as researchers and educators. He hopes to produce a full manuscript of his research in the coming year. And he plans to attend next spring’s ACP annual meeting.
“With the networking opportunities, seminars and workshops, the conference lets you envision the future of the profession,” he says.Photo: Jason and his wife, Casey Dluhos-Sebesto, also a DMU D.O. student, in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.