Fourth-year medical students claim first place at Womack Research Symposium

(Pictured: Dr. Bonnie Brenseke with MS-IVs Veronica Garbar and Alyssa Mackay)

Campbell University Medical students and residents participated in the 13th annual Research Symposium hosted by Womack Army Medical Center’s Department of Research on May 2 at the Iron Mike Conference and Catering Center on Fort Bragg.

The Campbell presenters were among 19 podium presentations and more than 70 poster presentations selected for the competition from the 82nd Airborne Division, Cape Fear Valley Health System, Campbell University, Fayetteville State University, Methodist University, Southern Regional Area Health Education Center and Womack Army Medical Center.

Research is growing at Campbell,” said Dr. Terri Hamrick, interim associate dean for research. “We look forward to our students participating in the Womack Symposium annually. Symposiums are opportunities to see interesting cases from a variety of practice settings as well as in-depth research.  For students in particular, we hope they leave inspired to take the next steps with their current project or pursue something more advanced.”

Fourth year medical students Veronica Garbar and Alyssa MacKay were awarded 1st place in the case reports category poster presentation for “Empty sella syndrome: case report of a rare pathology,” and Campbell University Cape Fear Valley Health general surgery resident Tyler Bowerman was awarded 3rd place for “Perforation of the pancreaticobiliary limb following Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery: a case report.”

“Veronica and Alyssa identified a case of empty sella syndrome (ESS) during their first year anatomy lab,” said Dr. Bonnie Brenseke, assistant professor of pathology and anatomy who sponsored the students’ research. “They sought to bring awareness to this rare disorder via case report presentation that included the histopathologic findings.”

She explained that with ESS the pituitary gland, which normally resides in a bony depression in the skull called the sella turcica, is shrunken and flat. Individuals with an empty sella usually have normal pituitary gland function, but some have one or more pituitary hormone deficiencies. Causes include head trauma and symptoms may include headache, infertility, and fatigue. ESS is often found incidentally on a head scan when being evaluated for other reasons. Therefore, many people with ESS are probably never diagnosed.

“The rarity and/or under-diagnosis of this disorder makes it a fitting case to share with attendees of research symposium hosted by a medical center,” said Brenseke. “Veronica and Alyssa were a pleasure to work with, and this award is a reflection of their initiative and follow through. I hope they continue to make scholarly contributions to their profession.”

In addition the medical school winners, Campbell University participants claimed first place in the podium presentation category: 1st Place: Megan Taylor, clinical pharmacy student at Campbell University for “ placed first for her podium presentation “An investigation of the association between risky behaviors and alcohol consumption in pregnant females,” and Emily Highsmith, clinical pharmacy resident at Cape Fear Valley Health System, placed first in the original research category poster presentation for “Evaluation of a pharmacist-led culture review service in a community hospital emergency department.” 2nd: Savannah Knepper, clinical pharmacy resident at Cape Fear Valley Health System for “Impact of a pharmacist monitored program on propofol use in the intensive care unit.”


Shelley Hobbs editor
Sarah Bowman, JD author
Kaitlyn Mathews photography

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