A research abstract from Jacob Hubbuch, a third-year student from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 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 Oct. 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. 

Under normal circumstances, research program winners would attend the ACS Clinical Congress to present their work. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, however, the event was conducted virtually. Each winner pre-recorded a five-minute presentation, then recorded their responses in a subsequent Q&A with one of the judges. These recordings were broadcast to attendees through a scheduled Medical Student Research Program videoconference on 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 Jordan Hess, MD, who is currently a general surgery intern, said Hubbuch. Each shares an author credit on the abstract along with several faculty from the UK College of Medicine Department of Surgery.

Originally, Hubbuch approached J. Scott Roth, MD, division chief of general, endocrine, and metabolic surgery (GEMS), and Margaret Plymale, RN, 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 Crystal Totten, MD, UK HealthCare 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 said.

"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 health care 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 in biochemistry from Western Kentucky University. He plans to enter general surgery or an integrated vascular surgery residency after medical school.

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