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Foundation Grant Recipient Gives Back

Charles Kuszynski, MS, PhD

Former research forum presenter now faculty advisor for the same forum

As a microbiology student on the GI Bill at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in the early 1970s, Charles Kuszynski, MS, PhD, began participating in the Midwest Student Biomedical Research Forum, one of the four research forums the AMA Foundation sponsored for nearly 50 years. 

Dr. Kuszynski transitioned from student to advisor when he completed his master’s degree in biochemistry in 1979, and has served as a faculty advisor for the same forum for the past 30 years. 

“I am still an advisor for the forum because of my experience as a student,” explains Dr. Kuszynski, who went on to earn a doctorate in medical sciences and is now an associate professor and director of the cell analysis facility at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  “I believe it is extremely important for students to learn how to present their data clearly and precisely and to practice public communications.” 

During his student experience Dr. Kuszynski found that the forums offered the unique experience of networking with students and faculty at other universities.  They also provided an opportunity for him to rate himself against his peers.  He believes these are still important functions of the forum.

The Midwest Student Biomedical Research Forum is set up like a national scientific meeting, with structured presentations, formal presentation times and poster sessions.  Dr. Kuszynski said that the student research forum reviewers critique the presentations in a more constructive manner than presenters might experience at national scientific meetings. Faculty judges, who can provide commentary as a learning experience, are carefully selected for the forum.

Dr. Kuszynski said that the forums helped develop the same communication skills he relies on today: “I think that being able to communicate is an essential component of any career.  It has allowed me to do what I do today as the director of a core facility at the university.”

“Every day I interact with investigators who know nothing about flow cytometry” explained Dr. Kuszynski.  “I communicate what we can do, how we can assist them in their research, and how the technology can impact their overall research.  Communication in this field is incredibly important.”

Recently, AMA Foundation revised its mission to focus on medical education and public health, with research now considered as part of medical education.  Consequently, the research forums will be funded by the AMA Foundation only through 2010, but will continue to occur and be administered by their host universities.  The AMA Foundation will concentrate its efforts on the Seed Grant Research Program, providing financial support for medical students’ and residents’ research projects.  This program will help meet the AMA Foundation’s goals of supporting the educational and career development of physicians-in-training.