UConn student to compete in the Minority Student Research Symposium 


Ashley Thammavongsa, a healthcare genetics major, will be representing the University of Connecticut in the National Institutes of Health sponsored Minority Student Research Symposium at the end of March.  

Veronica Yaron, a Clyde Group fellow at the public relations agency, spoke about the mission of the MSRS competitions. 

“Scholars from universities across the country will participate in the MSRS, hosted by the National Institutes of Health. An initiative inviting at least one million people across the U.S. to help build one of the most diverse health databases in U.S. history,” Yaron said in an email. “The symposium addresses the U.S.’ critical need to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care.”  

At the event, Yaron said Thammavongsa will be researching genetic testing for psychiatric disorders. 

Thammavongsa explained her role in the MSRS event and its emphasis on the representation of minority communities within the medical field. She said that during the event, students from across the nation will compete to show the medical research they have conducted, with a focus on minority communities. 

“The symposium will showcase biomedical research conducted by undergraduate, graduate, and medical students from underrepresented communities. Many research projects are focused on racial and ethnic disparities in health care.” 

Ashley Thammavongsa, UConn healthcare genetics major, in an email interview.

Thammavongsa said she was introduced to the opportunity from her graduate program director, Dr. Judy Brown, who emphasizes promoting diversity in the genetics field. 

The opportunity to compete in the MSRS is a way for students to show and be recognized for the research they have conducted while highlighting their various experiences and backgrounds, Thammavongsa said.  

“I find it interesting to hear the backgrounds of each researcher because since this symposium is focused on racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare, we all have different stories to share about our experiences.”

Ashley Thammavongsa, UConn healthcare genetics major, in an email interview.

Thammavongsa said she has worked closely with mentors and professors to complete the research and work for her project which she will present at the MSRS titled “Schizophrenia and Brain Cancer: A review on repurposing antipsychotic drugs for cancer.” 

Yaron said the opportunity to compete in the MSRS will recognize students for their research and interest in topics related to healthcare with an emphasis on minority communities.  

It is competitive, but the opportunity for students to share their time and work is a valuable experience, Thammavongsa said. 

“MSRS consists of many brilliant, driven researchers from all over the nation. We all bring something different to the table in terms of what research topics we are passionate about,” Thammavongsa said. 

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