Hillary Davis, a former Ph.D. student in Kent Leach’s laboratory, received the 2013 Loren D. Carlson Student Research Award, awarded to a graduating medical student for outstanding research performed in the School of Medicine. She will now enter a head and neck surgery residency program at the University of Rochester.

Hillary earned a B.S. in Polymer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was subsequently accepted into the Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP) at UC Davis, an integrated training program that combines medical and graduate education, leading to both the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. During the first two years of medical school, she was the first author on two papers: 1) a research article detailing a novel method of mineralizing polymeric scaffolds and 2) a book chapter reviewing composite biomaterials. Afterwards, Hillary joined the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Group where she balanced engineering coursework with time in the laboratory. Her thesis work, completed in 2.5 years, involved designing osteoconductive polymer/apatite composites to direct progenitor cell response for therapeutic bone repair. The nature of the research involved both in vitro and in vivo techniques and numerous collaborations to regenerate bone in a critically-sized rodent defect– work that is particularly applicable to craniofacial reconstruction. During her Ph.D., she became an author on four additional papers, six proceedings and presented at many national conferences. Further, she was awarded three fellowships including the nationally based, three-year NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship. She also served as the Chair-Elect for the Western Student Medical Research Forum, a reviewer for the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, and mentored five undergraduate students in Dr. Leach’s laboratory.

The Biomedical Engineering Graduate Group has recently trained or hosts several other outstanding students in the PSTP program including Nicolas Prionas (John Boone, Radiology), Samir Awasthi (Dennis Matthews, Center for Biophotonics), and Andrew Wong (Katherine Ferrara, Biomedical Engineering). The PSTP is designed to train the next generation of physician scientists who will pursue careers in academic medicine. The PSTP is sponsored by the UC Davis School of Medicine, and students are provided funding for tuition and fees as well as a stipend during their training in both medical and graduate school. The PSTP combines pre-clinical and clinical training with a commitment to basic and/or clinical research, and students can pursue their Ph.D. in any field among the wide variety of graduate programs offered through the Office of Graduate Studies on the UC Davis campus.