June 13, 2017 | Two residents from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have been selected for a prestigious fellowship in neuro-oncology administered jointly by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Neuro-Oncology Branch.
A maximum of two fellows per year are selected for the program, and this year, both are from UAMS.
Carlos Romo, M.D., co-chief resident physician; and Orwa Aboud, M.D., Ph.D., will complete their residencies in the Department of Neurology in the UAMS College of Medicine in June and begin their fellowships in July.
The fellowship provides advanced training for neurosurgeons, radiation therapists, medical and pediatric oncologists and neurologists to prepare them for academic careers in neuro-oncology. The experience is tailored individually to the needs of the fellow. Both Romo and Aboud will spend three years expanding both their research and clinical experience through courses, research projects, mentoring and clinical rotations.
“It is extremely prestigious for us to have not just one of the two, but both,” said Robert L. “Lee” Archer, M.D., professor and interim chairman of the Department of Neurology. “Their selection says a lot about the level of residents we are producing. Dr. Romo and Dr. Aboud have done outstanding work during their time here, and I would also like to credit their adviser, Dr. Shirley Ong, and our residency director, Dr. Kinshuk Sahaya, for contributing to their success.”
Ong, M.D., said that both have unique skillsets to offer their patients and expand the future of neuro-oncology.
“There are very few good neuro-oncology fellowship training programs in the U.S., and they are extremely competitive,” Ong said. “Neuro-oncology is a small field and requires hard work and a strong fortitude, and I had zero hesitation in recommending Drs. Aboud and Romo to the Johns Hopkins/NIH fellowship program. I know they will represent UAMS well.”
Romo is from Aguascalientes, Mexico, and earned his medical degree at Tec de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico. Sahaya, M.D., described him as a dynamic and multifaceted resident whose teaching ability is appreciated by students and faculty alike. For example, Romo helped Sahaya redesign part of the neurology residency curriculum. Ong described him as a leader who sets goals and accomplishes them.
Romo said his time at UAMS exposed him to a wide variety of patients, especially because of UAMS’ partnerships with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. He is looking forward to expanding his experiences even further.
“This fellowship, unlike any other in the country, provides the fellows with access to two different institutions that are leaders in the field,” Romo said. “Faculty members at Johns Hopkins and NIH are recognized worldwide for their contributions in the area of neuro-oncology. NIH also offers opportunities for collaboration between basic and clinical scientists, and particularly among scientists across other disciplines. This collaboration creates a nurturing environment for the development of ideas that can improve outcomes for patients with cancer of the nervous system.”
Aboud is from Swaida, Syria. He attended medical school at the University of Damascus in Syria and graduate school at UAMS. Sahaya described him as an outstanding resident and researcher and a skilled physician. He is a great team leader who is loved by colleagues, faculty, students and patients alike. His research is already garnering him top honors. Ong said Aboud is extremely compassionate and goes above-and-beyond with his patients.
Aboud said that early in his neurology residency, he took part in a neuro-oncology rotation that exposed him to how big the impact of basic and clinical research can be on patients’ treatment options and quality of life. He values the fact that both the UAMS residency and the NIH/Johns Hopkins fellowship give him both research and clinical exposure.
“The field of neuro-oncology is about giving patients options for a better quality of life, longer survival, and, hopefully, a cure,” Aboud said. “In preparation for my career as a neuro-oncologist, this training is essential to gain a broad knowledge of the science of brain tumor development and the scientific strategies used in the development of the next generation of treatment. As a clinician scientist, my goal is to achieve a more immediate and positive impact on my patients’ lives.”
The UAMS Neurology Residency is a four-year program open to students who already have a medical degree and are looking for advanced training in neurology. Residents can then move on to become practicing neurologists or pursue additional specialized training through fellowships, like Romo and Aboud.
“Both are very different in their interests and approach, and they exemplify the diversity of our learning approach, both culturally and academically,” Sahaya said. “It’s our goal to provide a supportive environment for our residents where they can both learn the essentials and develop their own interests while we assist them in that process. We support our residents in all career choices, from general to specialized neurology. These two are just another example of the careers we hope to nurture with our residency.”
For more information, visit neurology.uams.edu.