Research at WCUCOM

As a very young medical school dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians, William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine believes that students interested in a career in primary care will also benefit from research and scholarly activity during both the medical undergraduate and residency years. WCUCOM is currently in the process of building a research infrastructure, with a newly renovated laboratory, external funding proposals submitted, and the ongoing establishment of collaborations with other universities. Although still in the early stages, students and faculty members are excited about the possibilities for research and scholarly activity within a broad research portfolio, which will include, but is not limited to, clinical; community and public health; medical education; biomedical; and, of course, research on the facets of the osteopathic approach to medicine.

Student Research & Scholarly Activities

At WCUCOM, medical students in good academic standing are encouraged to engage in research projects and other types of scholarly activities. Such participation further enriches the academic education of the student, creates potential for collaboration, provides opportunity for presentation and publication, and strengthens the application of the student for obtaining residency positions. Research projects may include any type of biomedical, clinical, or academic research related to the WCUCOM Mission. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of research projects, some of which are ongoing faculty-driven research studies in which a student may play a specific role in the larger overall project. Moreover, students are also welcome to initiate their own research projects, either as a team of medical students, or individually. In addition to traditional research projects, other scholarly activities could include publishable clinical case studies, particularly by rotating OMS3 and OMS4 students.

OMS1 students are particularly encouraged to seek research opportunities as early as the summer prior to their OMS2 year, as this provides an opportune time to focus on research and scholarly activity. Numerous universities, research foundations, hospitals, and other organizations host summer research programs specifically for medical students. A number of these programs are posted on the WCUCOM website. Oftentimes, deadlines for applications occur in late fall; therefore, it is important to identify programs of interest as early as possible. Some of these programs offer financial support. Unfortunately, WCUCOM is unable to provide financial assistance to students performing research at other institutions. However, students participating in grant-funded collaborations between WCU and other institutions would be an exception to this policy.

Medical students need to remain in good academic standing to participate in WCUCOM-related research projects. If these research projects are grant-funded, the principal investigator is responsible for any support provided the student. If the research project is not grant-funded, the student may request university funds from the Associate Dean, Research to help defray expenses. However, the Associate Dean, Research is unable to fund student stipends from university funds.

Students making significant progress in a research or scholarly activity project should consult with their faculty mentor about the possibility of publishing and/or formally presenting this work in an appropriate venue. Presenting at an off-campus meeting will require approval from the WCUCOM Dean, particularly if travel funds are requested, or if a significant number of class absences are involved. Publication in a prestigious medical journal, or presentation at a national conference is certainly a desirable goal. However, many other venues, including regional and state meetings, which may also result in publications, are strongly encouraged as well. All medical students conducting research projects are asked to present at the annual WCU Research Day during the spring

Research Facilities

WCUCOM is recently completed the biomedical research laboratory facility in the Academic Building, Room 116, which is a renovation of the original gross anatomy laboratory. The new biomedical research laboratory is a 2,200 square foot facility that includes two tissue culture rooms, a prep room, and an open laboratory concept containing six mobile lab benches, a chemical fume hood, lab benches lining two walls, and a third wall lined with cubicle workstations. Laboratory records and functions are linked through electronic laboratory notebooks and a private intranet system. All laboratory personnel must receive biosafety and chemical safety training. Space in the biomedical research laboratory is allocated based on the needs of ongoing projects, with priority given to externally funded projects. The final stages of the biomedical research laboratory renovations will be mechanical changes to the ventilation system to stabilize the temperature and humidity in the room.