University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Class of 2014’s Robison Presents Research at AMSA Conference

Elizabeth Robison
UVM College of Medicine Class of 2014 medical student Elizabeth Robison

Second-year medical student Elizabeth Robison was awarded first place for her abstract and poster titled “Relationship between Sentinel Lymph Node Radioactivity Count and Metastasis in Breast Cancer” at the 2012 American Medical Student Association (AMSA) National Convention held in Houston, Texas, in March.

Robison’s research mentor on the project was Ted James, M.D., associate professor of surgery. Her abstract and poster were among 24 other student submissions in the “Patient-Oriented & Epidemiology Projects” category, which was judged by Robert Lembo, M.D., deputy director of clinical research training and medical education at the National Institutes of Health, and Geoffrey Young, Ph.D., senior director of student affairs and student programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Focused on the sentinel node biopsy – a standard practice for determining the nodal status of a clinically node-negative patient with invasive breast cancer – Robison’s research project aimed to determine how often metastasis is identified in a sentinel lymph node that does not have the highest radioactivity count, when using an approach called technetium guided lymphatic mapping and the 10 percent rule. Currently, there is debate over the number of sentinel lymph nodes necessary to accurately stage the armpit region (called axilla) while also minimizing morbidity.

In her welcome message in the Convention’s Abstract Program, AMSA Executive Director Carol Williams -Nickelson, Psy.D., stated “Our ultimate goal is to create a respected venue for exceptional research and project presentations by physicians-in-training. An additional goal is to help our members learn and develop professionally using rigorous criteria. With this in mind, our online abstract submission process included comprehensive guidance on how to organize and present both the abstract and the poster. After abstracts were submitted, we offered individual feedback to authors and hosted a complimentary training webinar for all of the invited poster presenters to outline tried and true methods for presenting a high-quality poster.”