UK medical student earns first place honors in ACS Medical Student Research program

A research abstract from a University of Kentucky third year medical student, Jacob Hubbuch, was awarded first place in the Education, Innovation, and Outcomes category of the American College of Surgeons’ (ACS) Medical Student research program. The research was among three top finishers featured at the ACS 2020 Virtual Clinical Congress on Saturday morning, October 3.

Hubbuch’s abstract, Ventral Hernia Repair with Soft Tissue Excision Impacts Costs and Outcomes, was selected from over 200 submissions for consideration. It was a record number of submissions, said Brad DeFabo Akin, Educational Programs Administrator in ACS’ Division of Education. Winners were selected in three categories: Basic Science, Clinical Science, and Education, Innovation and Outcomes. In addition to Hubbuch, first place for Basic Science went to Samantha Prince of the University of Wisconsin Medical School and, for Clinical Science, Sahaja Atluri of the University of Missouri, Kansas City took top honors.

Under normal circumstances, research program winners would attend the ACS Clinical Congress to present their work. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, however, the entire Clinical Congress was conducted virtually. Each winner pre-recorded a five-minute presentation, then recorded their responses to a subsequent Q&A with one of the judges. These recordings were broadcast to attendees through a scheduled Medical Student Research Program videoconference on Saturday morning, the first day of the 2020 Virtual Clinical Congress.

Winners were invited to participate in chat sessions during the live Medical Student Research program.

“It didn’t strike me how much data we had collected until I tried fitting it all into a five-minute talk. That was probably the most challenging part of the whole project,” Hubbuch said.

A great deal of credit also belongs to several UK medical students: Trevor Farmer, Seth Walsh-Blackmore, and Dr. Jordan Hess, who is currently a general surgery intern, said Hubbuch. Each shares an author credit on the abstract along with several faculty from the UK Department of Surgery.

Originally, Hubbuch approached Dr. J. Scott Roth, division chief of General, Endocrine, and Metabolic Surgery (GEMS), and Margaret Plymale about contributing to their ongoing research. However, the two experienced clinical researchers challenged Hubbuch to review previous research and develop an independent research project that builds on that work. He also received material support from Dr. Crystal Totten, UK gastrointestinal surgeon and assistant professor in the GEMS division.

“I believe it is important for medical students to research subjects and develop an independent hypothesis. Our research group has mentored dozens of students and fostered research development through facilitating a stepwise progression of their research from conception to final publication and presentation,” Dr. Roth explained.

“Roth and Plymale were instrumental in helping me with the study design and IRB, as I had zero experience with those before. Dr. Plymale was always there to answer all my nagging questions,” Hubbuch said. Daniel Davenport, PhD., division chief of Healthcare Outcomes and Optimal Patient Services (HOOPS), performed the statistical analysis.

Research will continue with the goal of submitting findings to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) by the end of the academic year, said Hubbuch.

Hubbuch, a native of London, Kentucky, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Western Kentucky University. He plans to enter general surgery or an integrated vascular surgery residency after medical school.