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Student Researcher Receives AMA Seed Grant

Third-year College of Osteopathic Medicine student, Kayla Jelinek of Rochester Hills, Michigan, has been selected as the 2015 Seed Grant Research Program recipient by the AMA Foundation.

Her study, Determining the Most Prevalent HR HPV Genotypes Among Women in Two Regions of Peru, arose from the results of a cervical cancer screening project she co-coordinated while on MSUCOM’s international elective to Peru in 2013. The results from the screenings suggested that there is an increased need for cervical cancer prevention among Peruvian women. Student Kayla Jelinek with child

There are more than 40 types of the Human Papilloma Virus that infect the genital tract. It’s thought that 18 of those types are high risk for causing cancer. The Gardasil vaccine that was introduced in 2006 only protects against HPV in four types, two of those types are high risk for causing cervical cancer.

HPV is the primary cause of most cervical cancers, Jelinek plans to determine, “which HR genotypes are most prevalent amongst Peruvian women, and if the current Gardasil vaccines are sufficient in design to protect against HPV-induced cervical cancer, or if a new vaccine design is needed.”

Jelinek will work with physicians from Universidad César Vallejo in the regions of Peru. During summer 2015 these physicians will collect cervical cell samples from women with abnormal pap smears visiting clinics in Peru. Jelinek plans to travel back to Peru in August to join these physicians to begin processing samples for HPV genotyping. Genotyping will be used to determine what type(s) of HPV has infected the cervix of a particular woman.

“The information gathered from this study will identify the HPV culprits burdening Peru and provide valuable insight about which HPV types to vaccinate against,” says Jelinek.

Once the research is finished, the team will produce a paper for publication and a research poster. They hope to present their findings at various symposia during fall 2015 and spring 2016.

“If our findings prove useful, we hope other scientists and physicians will expand upon our work, as we ourselves stand on the shoulders of giants. This ‘progression of knowledge’ is the beauty of science and medicine. We hope to contribute our part in cervical cancer prevention and watch others expand upon any of our findings,” she says.

This research opportunity has made an impact on her future plans, and she is particularly interested in the fields of gynecologic oncology and women’s health.

After graduation Jelinek plans to apply to residencies in obstetrics and gynecology and hopes to continue research in the field of women’s health, both in the United States and abroad.

— Laura Probyn, College of Osteopathic Medicine

–Photo License: Creative Commons (WikiHow)

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