CCOM Student Earns Golden Stethoscope Award for Research

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October 05, 2021 | Downers Grove, IL

Rachna Karumuri (CCOM 2023) received the Golden Stethoscope Award from the Indian American Medical Association of Illinois.

Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM) is proud to announce that third-year student, Rachna Karumuri, is the honored recipient of the Golden Stethoscope Award from the Indian American Medical Association of Illinois for her research. Ms. Karumuri investigated the expression of two novel molecular biomarkers in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer.  

Ms. Karumuri achieved this award for her research project titled “Evaluation of Cornulin and DJ-1 as Novel Prognostic Biomarkers of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma.” She developed the project under the guidance of her faculty mentor Hilal Arnouk, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pathology at Midwestern University. “As hypothesized, we found statistically significant data depicting a decreased expression of the tumor suppressor gene Cornulin and an increased expression of the oncogenic protein DJ-1 with each subsequent stage of tumor progression strongly suggesting the utility of Cornulin and DJ-1 in the early diagnosis of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Moreover, these novel biomarkers can be used to predict clinical outcomes and stratify patients based on the aggressiveness of their individual tumors, a core concept in modern precision medicine,” Ms. Karumuri said. Her research findings will contribute to the scientific knowledge that will allow physicians to diagnose cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma lesions earlier leading to a better prognosis for patients afflicted with this type of skin cancer.

In addition to sharing her findings at the 27th Annual Golden Stethoscope Awards, Ms. Karumuri embraced the opportunity to explore relevant translational research topics while also completing her degree in osteopathic medicine. “My work on this project has shown me the power and opportunity research holds in the medical field and has reinforced the nature and beauty of scientific discovery. This research experience instilled in me the spirit of being a continuous learner and investigator,” she said. “As I explore the various specialties of medicine this year through my rotations, I look forward to seeing the role that research and scientific discovery will have in deciding my future specialty in medicine and life as a physician.”

Midwestern University provides many opportunities for students from all programs to engage in meaningful research. As a healthcare university, we believe that students with research experience and a full appreciation of scientific methodology are more likely to be well-rounded healthcare professionals who are prepared to face a variety of future challenges.