Washington University Med School

Students' Experience

 I am currently working in Dr. Piccirillo’s Outcomes Research Laboratory between my third and fourth year in medical school at Washington University in St. Louis. My research is focused on assessing the superiority of surgical vs. non-surgical treatment of HPV+ squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx. My motivation for taking a year away from clinical duties was to develop a solid foundation in clinical research methodology. The Outcomes Laboratory has proven to be an excellent environment for these goals. The faculty and residents are interested in working closely with students on research projects; they also actively mentor their junior researchers on a professional level. The projects that the office works on foster the development of research skills, such as programming languages and a variety of statistical analysis. The lab also has a significant support structure to help students navigate much of the bureaucracy surrounding research including IRB submission and grant applications. Overall, working in the Outcomes Research Laboratory was one of the best decisions that I have made in my path to becoming a physician; I would advise anyone with an interest in research to seriously consider working here. - Nicholas Scott-Wittenborn - Washington University School of Medicine Class of 2018

I am a medical student at Western University COMP-NW in Oregon. Prior to medical school I spent two years at the NIH doing basic science research. Halfway through medical school I decided that I wanted to continue this pursuit, but with a focus on clinical research in Otolaryngology. During my third year of school I began searching for opportunities that would allow a year of clinical research and was fortunate to become acquainted with Dr. Piccirillo and his Clinical Outcomes Research Office at Washington University St. Louis SOM. From the start it was very evident that I had found a very unique opportunity for acquiring the framework and skills required to consider a career as a physician scientist. The atmosphere here offers a rich experience of diversity for a variety of projects and I am surrounded by an excellent team. My current projects include: 1) a prospective study investigating the role of smell training to promote neuroplasticity in patients with hyposmia/anosmia 2) a retrospective study exploring the effect symptoms might have in predicting recurrence in head and neck cancer patients 3) a prospective study determining the feasibility of using fluorescein angiography to determine prevalence of retinal telangiectasia’s in patients with Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia and 4) development of a mobile-based questionnaire that utilizes Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to better capture diagnostic patterns in tinnitus patients. - Jordan Licata 

Spending a year at the Otolaryngology Outcomes Office was one of the best decisions I have made in my medical school career. Thus far, it has been an incredibly valuable experience contributing to my education in so many ways. I came into this year hoping to learn more about clinical outcomes research. I can say with confidence that I have learned much more than I thought I could in one year. From creating an answerable study question, to writing manuscripts, I have been deeply involved in every component of a research study. What is truly unique about this department is working with Dr. Piccirillo, Dorina Kallogjeri, and Sara Kukuljan. I have never had the privilege of working with a mentor team as engaged in my progress as they have been. They truly put student education first. Within this year, they have made it a point to introduce me to key faculty members at this institution, to dedicate time for one-on-one meetings, and to invite me to exclusive lectures and events in the region. These opportunities amplify my education beyond clinical research, and in doing so I feel like I am much more prepared to become a physician-scientist. - Omar Karadaghy

I am a gap year student working in the Clinical Outcomes Office with Dr. Piccirillo and Dorina in between my undergrad at the University of Virginia and medical school. My experience in the office has been an incredibly positive one, both in terms of professional development and personal enjoyment. I came into the office with some experience in both clinical and basic science research and an interest in pursuing clinical research during my time in medical school and beyond. In the Outcomes Office, I have been able to work on multiple clinical research projects and participate in the development of studies at all stages, including writing grants and protocols, collecting and analyzing data, and writing manuscripts. The exposure to clinical research I’ve gained has been invaluable, affirming my commitment to research as part of my career and equipping me with the experience necessary to be successful in future research endeavors. In addition, I’m working as an editorial assistant at JAMA Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery under Dr. Piccirillo, the editor-in-chief of the journal, and Karen Dodson, the editorial manager. My work with JAMA Otolaryngology has given me a unique insight into the manuscript writing and publication process, insight that would be impossible to obtain anywhere else. Most importantly, Dr. Piccirillo and Dorina have been incredibly supportive in guiding me through this experience and making themselves available whenever I need assistance. Working in the Outcomes Office has been an excellent experience to bridge my undergraduate and medical education, one that I would highly recommend to any students in a similar position. - Sarah Tait

I had the pleasure of completing a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship in the Clinical Outcomes office under Dr. Jay Piccirillo's mentorship. I completed this fellowship during the years of 2011-2012 while taking a year away from Stanford University School of Medicine. Professionally, experiences with this office allowed me to gain numerous skills that will be useful to me throughout my desired academic career. Specifically, I had the experiences of: learning how to determine sample-sizes for a study, developing IRB-approved protocols, coordinating studies, performing basic statistical analysis, and disseminating my findings through manuscripts and presentations. In addition, personally, the Clinical Outcomes office offered a great team environment to discover the daily aspects a of a large clinical research laboratory. In all, my year of work in Dr. Piccirillo's Outcomes office has been one the most formative of my research career and medical career thus far. – James Krings

For me, my work with Outcomes has been a wonderful opportunity to learn and engage in clinical research. After completing my third year of medical school here at Washington University, I was sponsored to do a year of research through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to pursue my interest in clinical modeling and retrospective analysis. As a physician, I hope to use these skills to conduct systems-based analytics on medical treatment, to elucidate how clinicians can ensure that the best care is brought expediently and efficiently to every patient. – Raymond Jean

I was lucky enough to work in Outcomes this summer as part of the ASPIRE program. Having no prior research experience, I was very nervous about working on research projects, writing a research paper, and presenting my findings in front of a group of people. The entirety of Outcomes was very helpful, though, and made the experience enjoyable. I was able to learn the basic ropes of clinical research, and everyone in the office helped me with my paper and presentation. Overall, working in the Outcomes Office this summer has been a great experience and has helped me discern what I want to do with my college career. – Conor Joplin

I am a recent Notre Dame graduate working as a research assistant in the Clinical Outcomes Office during my gap year before medical school. Thus far, my time in the office has been an amazing learning experience; I have a background in biostatistics and clinical study data analysis, and am enjoying the opportunity to work with subjects directly. The students in the office are brilliant and supportive of one another, which keeps the workplace dynamic. My experience in the office will be a milestone in my medical and research careers, and has solidified my passion for clinical research. – Frances Mei Hardin

​I am a med student between my first and second year at Wash U. I decided to get a head start on my summer research plans and began working in Dr. Piccirillo’s lab halfway through my first year of medical school and have continued full-time through the summer. Dr. Piccirillo has been a wonderful mentor. I was able to quickly get started on and head my own projects, and he has been responsive and involved with me on those projects. Importantly, he has often demonstrated his commitment to my personal success and education. The rest of his lab is a fun and cohesive group that are enjoyable to work with, and have provided all the resources I needed to be successful. Looking back, I am very glad that I got started early in research and that I chose Dr. Piccirillo’s lab. I have been able to be successful and productive, and I think my experience here will aid my future career goals. – Mike Wilson

​I am a 2nd year medical student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. I was able to join the Outcomes team through the T32 summer program offered by Washington University’s Otolaryngology department. Having no prior research background, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to come and be a part of a great team and learn so much valuable information in such a short amount of time. Such information included learning basic statistics, drafting proposals for internal review boards, drafting manuscripts, collecting data, and creating and delivering presentations about the studies performed. My experience in the Outcomes department has provided me with a solid foundation to build upon as I pursue future research interests and projects during my medical education and career. – Mitchell Gorman

Working in Outcomes this summer has been a great experience, from attending weekly lectures to learning advanced techniques to analyze clinical data. I was exposed to multiple statistical softwares which will be extremely useful in years to come. My experience enforced my desire to pursue a dual degree in a social science and statistics. The entire outcomes team is eager to find ways to advance methods and improve the quality of life for patients. Although Outcomes is first and foremost dedicated to advancing medical knowledge, there is a huge emphasis on promoting students’ learning. I worked under Dr. Dorina Kallogjeri, who stressed the importance of the thought process of statistics and giving rational meaning to numbers. I have no doubt after working in the Outcomes office that the WashU department of Otolaryngology will continue to be a leader in its field and that my peers in the office will continue on to accomplish great things in the medical field. – Hallie Miller

Being able to fulfill my T32 research requirements at the Clinical Outcomes Research (COR) office was a delight. Not only did I have the privilege of having a great mentor in Dr. Piccirillo, I also gained exposure to various methods of clinical investigation including study conception and design, statistical analysis, IRB compliance requirements, various opportunities to review manuscripts and even serve as a mentor to some of the high school and medical school students who come through the COR office. The COR office is a​n indispensable asset for developing astute physician-scientists both in the department of Otolaryngology and Washington University at large. – Funmi Okuyemi

My internship in the Clinical Outcomes Office was funded by the Siteman Cancer Center Summer Scholars Program. I am an aspiring physician and rising sophomore at University of Pennsylvania. I have extensive basic science medical research experience, and my internship in the Clinical Outcomes Office exposed me to another side of medicine that I found fascinating and more tangible than my previous experiences. My main responsibility during the summer of 2012 was data analysis for the Prognostigram, which generates personalized cancer survival curves based on a multitude of patient factors. I used and became proficient in the statistical software R, SPSS, and STATA. Everybody in the Clinical Outcomes Office has been supportive of each other member’s work, and we have developed close bonds through the weekly “Pizza lunches,” weekly lab meetings, and daily collaborations. I am extremely grateful for this immersive experience and look forward to the future cutting-edge research that will come from the Clinical Outcomes Office. – Lawrence Wu