Medical student receives top honors

October 22, 2015 | News, UToday, Advancement, Medicine and Life Sciences
By Lindsay Mahaney

Committed, intelligent and extremely busy are just a few of the qualities professors used to describe Adam Blatt.

When he heard that his professors had spoken well of him, Blatt sipped his coffee, chuckled and joked, “They’re just keeping it professional.”

But his repertoire proves that couldn’t be further from the truth.



Blatt is the recipient of two prestigious honors: the Dr. Freimer Excellence in Microbiology and Immunology Award and the Dr. Freimer MD/PhD Scholarship. The first is awarded to the student who receives the highest marks in the Infection and Immunity block of the medical curriculum, a course every medical student is required to take. The second is a $1,500 endowed fund that has been established to help support MD/PhD students conducting research in the Infection, Immunity and Transplantation track — and it’s not even awarded on a yearly basis.

“I was shocked when I found out,” Blatt said. “There were three other candidates that were all very good, so I was just shocked and felt a little lucky because I know they all do exceptional work.”

Blatt’s research takes up the majority of his time. Focusing on a group of proteins in the immune system, he looks at their role in cardiovascular diseases. The primary goal of his research is to identify targets for therapeutics to treat or prevent diseases associated with increased thrombosis — the clotting of blood in the circulatory system — and inflammation. The dissertation project is co-funded by a National Institutes of Health R01 grant and his American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship.

“I really like the work; it’s challenging but definitely worth it.”

He’s completed two years of medical school and is spending his third year researching in the lab. Depending on the current round of experiments, he hopes to transition back to his final two years of medical school next summer.

“Adam has the qualities of an ideal graduate student, and I feel privileged to have him in my lab,” said Dr. Viviana Ferreira, associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology. “I am consistently impressed by his intelligence, resilience, commitment, drive, team spirit, and ability to learn and apply this knowledge. He is highly creative, with an excellent ability to detect pitfalls and propose alternative approaches when difficulties arise.”

Blatt works in Ferreira’s lab on his dissertation project. She’s also his PhD adviser.

“Aside from excelling in his medical training during his first two years of medical school, he has won many graduate awards, which are testament to his exemplary work ethic. I have no doubt he will make highly significant contributions as a future independent physician-scientist,” she said.

In addition to being exemplary in the classroom and the lab, Blatt was a student representative on the MD/PhD Faculty Committee, serves as president on the Council for Biomedical Graduate Students, assists with the microbiology labs for medical school, and volunteered to arrange dinners for MD/PhD student applicants during their interviews.

Dr. Earl Freimer, who the awards were named for, a co-founder of the Medical College of Ohio in 1968. He also served both as the founding chairman of the Department of Microbiology and as founding chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine. Freimer passed away in 2011; these scholarships were created in his honor after his death. Gifts may be made to the Earl H. Freimer Endowed Scholarship Fund at the UT Foundation.

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