Brittany Nino’s reasons are personal for joining Dean Robert Yoho, D.P.M., M.S., FACFAS, in his research on diabetes, vitamin D and other factors in the body.
“Diabetes runs in my family, and since I started school I have had family members reach out to me about it,” says the third-year CPMS student. “As a future physician and family member, I thought it would be great to find out if vitamin D can help prevent or give insight into severe diabetic foot complications.”
The American Podiatric Medical Students’ Association (APMSA) found the project to be compelling, too: Nino was one of just two podiatric medical students nationwide to be awarded a $1,000 APMSA 2017-2018 Partner Research Grant to support her work.
“The award represents Brittany’s understanding and development as a student researcher,” Yoho says. In addition to doing literature reviews, Nino assisted the dean in developing a proposal for their research that was approved by the DMU Institutional Review Board and received funding from the DMU Research and Grants Committee.
Nino and second-year CPMS student Edee Wildman are collecting data – such as vitamin D and calcium levels and body fat – from diabetic and non-diabetic research subjects through blood draws and body/bone scans. Their goal is to use the data to identify whether the metabolic bone status of diabetic individuals with peripheral neuropathy, compared to non-diabetic individuals, puts them at risk for Charcot neuropathy, a limb-threatening condition.
Nino is engaged in her future profession as well as research. As president of the Iowa Podiatric Medical Students Association, which is the governing body for CPMS students, she also serves as president of the CPMS Student Government Association and a member of the APMSA House of Delegates.
“I like the surgical aspect of podiatric medicine, but I also like being in a leadership position,” she says. “I want to know what’s going on on a national level, to advocate for the profession and to grow the student applicant pool.”