Touro College Celebrates Sixth Annual Research Day

Faculty and Students Builds Bridges Across Academic Disciplines

May 01, 2017

With those opening remarks, Touro College’s sixth annual school-wide Research Day, sponsored by Colgate, began on April 25 at the TouroCOM Harlem campus. Students and faculty members from all of Touro’s schools delivered more than 90 poster presentations ranging from the neuroaesthetics of art to new discoveries of paleontology to the effects of testosterone in osteosarcoma tumorigenesis.

Schools that participated included Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush (LAS), Lander College for Men (LCM), Lander College for Women (LCW), School of Health Sciences (SHS), TouroCOM Harlem, TouroCOM Middletown, Touro College of Pharmacy (TCOP), Touro College Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW), Touro College of Dental Medicine, The School for Lifelong Learning, Touro College Graduate School of Education and Touro College Graduate School of Business (GSB),

Touro College and University System President Dr. Alan Kadish explained that while Touro is not a faith-based institution, the university is in under Jewish auspices and that research and evidence-based practice are a tenet of the Jewish community.

“There is a long Jewish intellectual tradition that values scientific investigation,” explained Dr. Kadish.

Dr. Kadish spoke of his forthcoming book which will focus on Jewish contributions to medicine including the story of Ernst Boris Chain, who shared the Nobel Prize with Sir Alexander Fleming for their development of penicillin to combat bacteria.

The two keynote speakers were Dr. Martha J. Somerman, DDS, the director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), and Dr. Salomon Amar, Touro College’s Provost of Biomedical Research.

Dr. Somerman discussed the areas of interest for the NIH and funding opportunities for research in a captivating discussion that also laid out the future goals of the organization. Dr. Amar spoke about how he became a researcher during his time in Strausberg, Germany and the need for collaborative research.

“On our own, the complexity of diseases are too immense for an individual,” he asserted.

Dr. Timothy Bellavia, a professor at Touro’s Graduate School of Education, who helped organize the event, explained:

“We’re such a unique college with so many different schools, Research Day allows us to share ideas and collaborate,” said Dr. Bellavia, noting his own work with the SHS OT department.

Sitting next to each other were professors Atara Grenadir, chair of the art department at LAS and an instructor in the School for Lifelong Learning, and Rabbi Aharon Grenadir, a mathematics instructor at LAS.

“It’s important for Touro to facilitate the collaboration of our skills,” Rabbi Grenadir said, though in their case, the collaboration was a bit easier, as the two are married and took the train together that morning from their home in Kensington, Brooklyn.

More than a dozen Touro students from the newly opened Touro College of Dental Medicine also attended the conference. Jennifer Mehrens, a first-year student at the dental school, was excited to hear both Dr. Amar and Dr. Somerman. She said that the school had switched around some classes to enable the dental students to attend the conference. While the research deadline had been too early for the students to submit their own research, they were looking forward to presenting next year.

“I’m excited to be a part of this,” said Mehrens.

Peter Benjamin, a doctoral student in the School of Health Sciences’ Doctor of Physical Therapy program, said he felt that events like this were necessary.

“We get to network and see what everyone else is doing,” he said. “We’re so focused on our own studies that we don’t really have a chance to see what everyone else is up to.”

Aside from a chance to network with their peers in Touro’s other schools, the event offered Touro students a chance to work on their presentations before they present at several national conferences, said Dr. Chad Woodard of SHS DPT.

“This experience enables them to feel more comfortable talking about their research before they reach the national stage,” said Dr. Woodard who worked with students on research about athlete training for triathlons.  

This was definitely the case for Emily Lisanti, an enterprising undergraduate at the School of Health Science, who presented on her own study about the correlation between vitamin D insufficiency and depression.

“I was super excited to talk about what I was working on,” she said. “Since I’ve gotten involved in research, I wanted to broaden my experience.”

The event culminated in a lively meet and greet on the fourth floor, where faculty and students, in the spirit of the day, networked, formed friendships and learned about what grants and assistance Touro provides for its researchers.