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Geisel Names Syvertsen Fellow, Scholars

Fadzai Chinyengetere, PhD, of Harare, Zimbabwe, was selected as the Rolf C. Syvertsen Fellow for the 2014-2015 academic year at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine, a distinctive honor bestowed by the Syvertsen Alumni Memorial Committee on one of the school’s Syvertsen Scholars each year.

Earlier this fall, Chinyengetere was among the six students in the Class of 2015 selected by a Geisel faculty committee for the Syvertsen Scholar Award, based on their outstanding academic achievement, leadership qualities, personal attributes, and community involvement. This year’s other scholars include Mazin T. Abdelghany of Belmont, Mass.; Ilya Bendich of Great Neck, NY; Whitney Hitchcock of Rochester, N.Y.; Andree H. Koop of Naples, FL.; and Sadie M. Marden of Oakland, Maine.

The awards commemorate Rolf C. Syvertsen, a former professor of anatomy, long-time dean, and beloved mentor of several generations of medical students at Dartmouth. Syvertsen, who graduated from Dartmouth Medical School (now the Geisel School) in 1923, served as the school’s dean from 1945 until his death in 1960.

A student in the dual degree MD/PhD program, Chinyengetere has been involved in research on cancer therapies under the guidance of Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD, a professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Geisel and provost at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. She co-authored four research articles that were published in professional medical journals and was the first author of a paper that she presented at the Targeting the Ubiquitin Pathway conference in Boston, MA, in 2012. In 2013, Chinyengetere presented her research at the American Association of Cancer Research’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. She earned a PhD in June 2013.

Passionate about health care and innovation in medical treatment, Chinyengetere was determined to become a medical doctor after witnessing the suffering and deaths caused by HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Zimbabwe. “I hope to maintain both the clinical and research components of my career as an opportunity to broaden my impact by caring for patients both in the clinic as well as through research,” Chinyengetere said.

The Syvertsen Scholars

Mazin T. Abdelghany has engaged in research on pancreatic and muscle team cells for potential use in diabetes and muscular dystrophy treatments, and on bone tissue engineering for repairing bone fractures. He has worked as a research assistant at Harvard-MIT Health Services and Technology and at Geisel, where he prepared and facilitated large group sessions in immunology and virology. Abdelghany founded the Geisel Journal Club to expose students to clinically relevant basic science and translational research papers in medical journals, and serves as a student representative to Geisel’s Medical Education Committee.

Abdelghany loves to teach and has honed his skills as a tutor for first-year medical students in preclinical courses in cell biology, histology, general pathology, and neuroscience. His goal is to find a niche in medicine that fosters his passions for patient care and teaching, along with his interests in basic science and clinical research.

An MD/MBA dual degree student, Ilya Bendich, contributed to a study and clinical trial of alternative treatments to total knee arthroplasty with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). These experiences led him to publish abstracts as the first author and to present his findings at the International Society of Technology in Arthroplasty’s annual conference in October 2013, and the Nordic Orthopaedic Federation Congress in Helsinki, Finland, in May 2014.

Bendich leads the Orthopaedic Surgery Interest Group, organizing events that promote interaction among medical students and the faculty and residents. He serves as the MD-MBA representative in student government and has advocated for resources to increase collaboration between the medical school and business communities at Dartmouth. To this end, Bendich coordinated a spring mini-MBA course, in which Tuck professors taught principles of business operations and time management to more than 100 medical students.

Whitney Hitchcock came to the Geisel School passionate about patient wellness and oncology. As an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, she and her classmate (Kirsten Orloff, MD), designed and implemented a wellness, nutrition, and exercise curriculum for high-risk young mothers enrolled in a local parenting skills program. Hitchcock has also delved into clinical research and through this work had found her calling in radiation oncology. She currently studies the clinical applications of Cherenkoscopy, a novel system for visualizing radiation treatment in patients in real time, under the guidance of Lesley Jarvis, MD, PhD, in the Department of Radiation Oncology at DHMC. She attended a national conference in San Francisco to present this work and has co-authored several published papers along with Dartmouth's Departments of Engineering, Physics, and Radiation Oncology.

Hitchcock has also worked on a cancer research project under the guidance of Marc Ernstoff, MD, in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at DHMC. For this project, she and Jeremy Whyman, MD, evaluated the clinical outcomes of patients with metastic melanoma and renal cell carcinoma who have undergone immunotherapy with high-doses of Interleukin 2, a protein that regulates the activities of the white blood cells responsible for immunity.

The recipient of a Dartmouth International Health Group Fellowship, Andree Koop worked with Paul Palumbo, MD, and NGO Comrades of Children Overseas in a public health and nutrition research project among farmers in rural Tanzania. He currently works under the guidance of Timothy Gardner, MD, in the Section of Gastroenterology at DHMC, for which he is composing a book chapter on medical management of acute pancreatitis. Additionally, Koop is working on a quality improvement research project in gastroenterology, studying factors associated with readmission of patients with cirrhosis.

As a first-year student with an interest in providing health care to underserved populations, Sadie M. Marden participated in a clinical experience at the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, where she worked with physicians in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Family Medicine, and Emergency Medicine. Marden later traveled to Peru under the guidance of Dr. Jaime Bayona from The Dartmouth Institute to learn about the country’s health care system, where she collaborated with local experts in the classroom, conducted surveys with a public health advocacy organization, and worked in health clinics near Lima.

Marden also volunteered in rural Haiti with Hispanola Health Partners, where she organized and conducted cervical cancer screenings, helped to set up clinics, and worked with a team to provide follow up care for patients. She also conducted research with the National Health Service Corps Scholars, medical professionals in training who work in medically underserved areas. Marden also conducted a research project at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) focused on understanding how patients with Crohn’s disease perceive risk and their treatment preferences.