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The Van Liere Research Conference will be held on March 21st and March 22, 2019 at the West Virginia University Health Sciences Campus.

The first event was held in 1965 to highlight research of medical students in the School of Medicine with William A. Neal the first winner. He would later become a Professor and Physician in Pediatric Cardiology and become the founder and director of the Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities Project (CARDIAC).

Today, it has grown significantly to represent the research of students of all levels in all five schools at the Health Sciences Campus. 

This year we will open the event to undergraduate students from institutions in West Virginia and surrounding state to present their research.

Thursday is reserved for a morning of oral presentations of research with two sessions: the first is the clinical and translational science session and the second is the basic science session.  Each student is given 15 minutes to present their research while being judged by faculty.  This is open for all to attend. The afternoon will feature poster presentations from undergraduate students from a variety of institutions outside of West Virginia University.

Friday begins with the poster session which showcases research from approximately 190 students ranging from undergraduate, graduate, residents, medical and professional program to postdoctoral researchers.  All posters are judged by faculty with one winner being selected from each category.  At noon, the plenary lecture begins with our guest speaker Dr. Paul Offit, from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania who will deliver the lecture titled “Scientific Misadventures: Learning from the Past”.  Immediately following the lecture, an awards ceremony will honor the winners from the poster sessions and oral presentations.  After the awards ceremony, there will be a reception for all to mingle and celebrate and also have their book signed by the author, Dr. Offit. 

Historical Overview

Edward J. Van Liere, M.D. was the “Father of the WVU Medical Center.” He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He was Professor and Chair of Physiology before he became Dean of the School of Medicine in 1937 – his reign lasted until 1960. Dr. Van Liere developed the two-year medical school into a four-year accredited program. After WWII, he instituted an accelerated medical curriculum in response to the country’s need for physicians. He was also a consultant to Surgeon General of the United States.

Dr. Van Liere’s life-long love was research. He was a pioneer in altitude physiology, studying the effects of low oxygen pressure (hypoxia) on the body. Two publications highlight his research career and are considered seminal papers:

  • Anoxia, Its Effect on the Body, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1942
  • Hypoxia, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1963

Dr. Van Liere insisted on academic excellence fostered by scientific research and firmly believed in repeated, repeated, repeated observations. Below, are two of his famous quotes:

  • “Special attention must be called to research in any treatise dealing with medical education.”
  • “What is the evidence that leads you to that conclusion?”

The oral presentations of research: The Van Liere Committee will choose the oral presentations that will present.  Presenters will have a total of 15 minutes (usually 10-12 minutes for presentation, 3-5 minutes for Q&A).  These are competitive and winners are chosen in each category, either Basic Science or Clinical and Translational Science. Oral presentations are open to all graduate students (including medical students and MD/PhD students) and residents.