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Ryan Bender, 2020 “Full Year Research Scholarship” Recipient

Since 2002, the Alumni Fund from the COM Alumni Association has annually awarded exceptional medical students the “Full Year Research Scholarship”—a scholarship in support of full-time medical research, which provides up to $36,000 for students to conduct their studies over one full academic year.

To be considered, applicants—who have completed at least one year of matriculation—are asked to summarize their scientific/research experience, career goals, specific research interest, and a detailed description of their intended research project. As the Alumni Association receives a great number of qualified applicants every year, the selection process is managed very carefully, with each application being reviewed and ranked by three specialized researchers from various specialties. Richard Sadovsky, M.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, presents the results of the review to the Board of Trustees who collectively consider the number of recommended recipients, and then vote on award recipients.

Ryan Bender, third-year medical student, has been selected as the recipient of the COM Alumni Association’s 2020-2021 Full Year Research Scholarship!

Mr. Bender’s application and his project, “Towards Personalized Breast Cancer Care: A Vascularized, Three-Dimensional Biomimetic Platform for Patient Specific, Ex Vivo Studies of Breast Cancer,” stood out to the review committee for its ability to greatly advance existing scientific literature. He will soon begin his research-dedicated year, where he will focus on the in vivo construction of biomimetic breast tissue for breast cancer research—conducting his study at the Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery Laboratory at Weill Cornell Medical College.

WHO IS RYAN BENDER? Originally from Rochester, New York, Mr. Bender studied biological and biomedical engineering at Cornell University with emphases on tissue engineering, microfluidics, and computer-assisted engineering. Before starting medical school, Ryan took time to experience the world outside of medicine through extensive travel and roles in the wine industry and hospitality. He moved to New York City where he took a role as a medical assistant role in 2017 and then began his first year of medical school here at Downstate the following year.

In his first semester, Mr. Bender began conducting research in the Laboratory of Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. There, he explored new techniques in microvascular tissue engineering, with the eventual goal of developing fully-vascularized tissue for use in reconstructive surgery. He notes that his specific focus in vascular tissue engineering stems from an understanding that microvascular networks are essential for the creation of any tissue of more than nominal thickness. He believes that once microvasculature can be generated on-demand, researchers’ ability to construct all tissue types will advance rapidly.

Given his specific interest in rebuilding the human body, Mr. Bender hopes to someday work as a reconstructive plastic surgeon, splitting his time between operative cases, mentoring roles, and oversight of a translational research laboratory. He envisions himself developing new regenerative medicine technologies, namely biomimetic human tissue for in vitro disease modeling and human body repair, and affordable biomedical technologies for use in developing nations.

*Awardees from last year’s scholarship cycle and their topics include:

  1. Natasha Masub: Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy as a Modulator of Gene Expression in Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  2. Eric Schoenfeld: Early Life Stress and Serotonin Transporter Gene Polymorphism Interaction: Impact on Hippocampal Volume Asymmetry

  3. Jin Jyun Oh: Outcome Measurements of RHO Retinopathy to Monitor the Efficacy of ‘ablate and replace’ gene therapy

  4. Nadlie Toussaint: Overcoming Chemo Resistance in Pancreatic Cancers by Blockade of EXTL

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