23rd Spring Research Festival Unites Community for Two Days of Science

By Samuel Lopez, staff writer; photos by Richard Frederickson, Samuel Lopez, and Chris Worthington
Photo of keynote speaker Dr. Robert "Chip" Schooley addressing a large audience at the festival

Robert “Chip” Schooley, M.D., speaks to a crowded audience during the keynote address.

Every year, an event in Frederick attracts people from all over the county. Amid its semi-festive atmosphere, attendees promenade through displays showcasing collaborative projects while speakers tell true stories of impressive feats and judges award prizes for outstanding handiwork. But it’s not the Great Frederick Fair—it’s the Fort Detrick Spring Research Festival.

For the twenty-third straight year, the festival brought together Fort Detrick researchers and Frederick County citizens for a multi-day scientific exhibition that publicizes the endeavors of the fort’s resident institutes and celebrates the collaboration that makes their achievements possible.

Scientists at NCI at Frederick and the Frederick National Laboratory participated alongside colleagues from six other institutes, including the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) and the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center.

Day one of the festival opened with a morning poster blitz, in which 10 researchers explained their work to an audience in five-minute mini-lectures. Afterward, a forum spotlighted three scientists who made scientific advancements as part of the collaborative National Interagency Confederation for Biomedical Research.

The second day offered more showcases, including a symposium that featured successful projects by postbaccalaureate and postdoctoral researchers and a mini-symposium that highlighted collaborative technologies and services available at the Frederick National Laboratory.

Day two also featured the festival’s keynote address by Robert “Chip” Schooley, M.D., vice chair for Academic Affairs of the Department of Medicine and professor of Medicine/Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Diego. Schooley delivered his presentation, “Bacteriophage Therapy for the Treatment of Serious Bacterial Infections: What Have We Learned and What Don’t We Know?” to a nearly full house.

On both days, a biomedical equipment expo attracted Fort Detrick personnel, vendors, regional colleges, and community groups, giving all a chance to browse wares, watch technological demonstrations, and discuss partnerships.

A poster display rounded out each day. There, researchers ranging from student interns to career scientists showed off 120 posters on a myriad of topics, such as first aid, genetics, and molecular microscopy.

The festival concluded with an awards ceremony that recognized exceptional presentations and posters. In total, 22 people received awards, including 12 NCI at Frederick and Frederick National Laboratory staff and student interns:

  • Alexis Adkins (intern), Outstanding Poster: Developmental and Cell Biology
  • Nour Ali (intern), Outstanding Poster: Structural Biology and Chemistry
  • Elvira An, Outstanding Poster: Clinical Research
  • Christian Louis Bonatto Paese, Outstanding Presentation
  • Amy Funk, Outstanding Presentation
  • Hadley Humbertson (intern), Outstanding Poster: Emerging Technologies
  • Camryn Isemann (intern), Outstanding Poster: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Emily Lutz (intern), Outstanding Poster: Cancer Biology
  • Richard Ma (intern), Outstanding Poster: Gene Therapy, Genome Editing, and Genetics
  • Ahlam Majadly (intern), Outstanding Poster: Infectious Pathogens and Epidemiology
  • Pedro Torres-Ayuso, Outstanding Presentation
  • Sevilay Turan, Outstanding Poster: Scientific Core Services

Maj. Gen. Barbara Holcomb, chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and commanding general of USAMRMC and Fort Detrick, presented the awards.

2019 Spring Research Festival poster display. Werner H. Kirsten student intern Emme Tissue (left) speaks with Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor at the poster display. 2019 Spring Research Festival Biomedical Research Equipment and Supplies Expo. 2019 Spring Research Festival Biomedical Research Equipment and Supplies Expo. Robert “Chip” Schooley, M.D., (center) receives a certificate of appreciation from Lt. Cmdr. Robert Hontz, Ph.D., U.S. Naval Medical Research Center, (left) and retired Capt. Alfred Mateczun, M.D., U.S. Naval Medical Research Center, (right) for delivering the keynote address. Elvira An, postbaccalaureate fellow at NCI at Frederick, explains her research during the poster blitz. Christian Louis Bonatto Paese, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at NCI at Frederick, speaks during the poster blitz. John “Jay” Schneekloth Jr., Ph.D., NCI at Frederick, was one of three scientists who spoke at the National Interagency Confederation for Biomedical Research forum. Amy Funk, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at NCI at Frederick, shares her research into kinases during the postbaccalaureate/postdoctoral scientific symposium on day two of the festival. Dipak Poria, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at NCI at Frederick, presents his studies on transcription factors. Raj Chari, Ph.D., Frederick National Laboratory, explains the services his group offers to other scientists. Maj. Gen. Barbara Holcomb (left) closed out the festival by presenting awards to outstanding participants. Award recipient Nour Ali, NCI at Frederick student intern, (right). Award recipient Alexis Adkins, NCI at Frederick student intern, (right). Award recipient Sevilay Turan, Frederick National Laboratory employee, (right). Award recipient Ahlam Majadly, NCI at Frederick student intern, (right). Award recipient Richard Ma, NCI at Frederick student intern, (right). Award recipient Camryn Isemann, NCI at Frederick student intern, (right). Award recipient Amy Funk, Ph.D., NCI at Frederick employee, (right). Award recipient Pedro Torres-Ayuso, Ph.D., NCI at Frederick employee, (right). Lt. Col. Jaime Anderson, USAMRMC Strategic Partnership Office, (back row, second from left); Katherine Ramsburg, USAMRMC contractor, (back row, far right); and Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Sprunger, USAMRMC and Fort Detrick, (center-left) joined Maj. Gen. Holcomb (front row, center-left) in congratulating the award recipients.