Dr. Almatmed “Mo” Abdelsalam, who received his M.S. from the college’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences before entering residency, was the first place presenter for his poster, “Importance of Intravascular Ultrasound in Diagnosing Coronary Intramural Hematoma.” He was one of 18 winners in the 2015 American Medical Association Research Symposium in Atlanta which included 368 research presentations from “the nation’s brightest medical students, residents, fellows and international medical graduates,” according to the AMA. Judges reviewed hundreds of posters and presentations on more than a dozen medical specialties. Dr. Abdelsalam was one of four UCF internal medicine residents who presented at the event. Dr. Lillian Gonzales was his co-author.

He said he met his patient in the emergency room of Osceola Regional Medical Center – which partners with the College of Medicine and the Orlando VA Medical Center in training UCF’s internal medicine residents. She was suffering from agonizing chest pain that began as she left a post-partum visit with her obstetrician. She had no cardiac risk factors or illnesses. The only thing unusual about her medical history was that she had just given birth to her second child although the pregnancy and C-section delivery had been without complications.

By using an intravascular ultrasound, physicians were able to look inside blood vessels in the woman’s heart and see that two of the vessels had dissected causing a hematoma, or abnormal collection of blood. The ultrasound showed no cardiac condition that had caused the dissection and hemoatoma. Dr. Abdelsalam’s mentor, Dr. Aamir Javaid, an interventional cardiologist at Osceola Regional, helped the resident understand the rare condition in which pregnancy had caused the heart problem. Pregnancy increases a woman’s blood volume and causes various metabolic changes. That and the strain of child birth appear to have caused her heart condition, Dr. Abdelsalam said. The patient’s physicians inserted stents into her heart and she is now free of cardiac problems. They worked with the patient to reassure her that she was not a traditional cardiac patient and didn’t have to live in fear of another heart attack, that her condition was related to pregnancy and her risk if she had another child. The paper illustrated the rare condition, showed how intravascular ultrasound can be used to diagnose it and raise awareness of a possible complication that OB-GYNs should be aware of in their patients, Dr. Abdelsalam said.

The UCF residency program has put an emphasis on academic research in addition to patient care and Dr. Abdelsalam has an extensive background in scientific discovery. After receiving his M.D. degree, he spent two years gaining a graduate degree and conducting Crohn’s disease research with Dr. Saleh Naser at the Burnett School. He said his background in biomedical sciences helps him care for patients. “It helps me understand what my patients are dealing with from a molecular view,” he said. “So I can see both sides and how they come together. That gives me a unique perspective on how I can help my patients.”

Dr. Abdelsalam’s other faculty research mentor, Dr. Magda Sanchez-Velez from the Orlando VA, said the research project showed the resident’s persistence. His original case report had been rejected by another organization. So the two worked together to revise and strengthen the project. “Sometimes when something appears not to be working out for us, in reality is because there is something better awaiting for us,” she said. “This is a clear example. His tenacity and persistence made this possible. So, my message for Mo is: believe in yourself and keep knocking at the doors, the right one will open for you.”

Other residents who presented research at the AMA were:

— Dr. Mustafa Kinnan, – “Systemic Therapy in Primary Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Duodenum: A Case Report”

Co-author: Dr. Bruna Pellini Ferreira

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jorge Otoya

— Dr. Gerard Chaaya – “A Sweet Source of Abdominal Pain”

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mahmoud Farhoud

— Dr. Arnaldo Reyes-Esteves – “Brugada syndrome: diagnosing a silent killer”

Co-author: Dr. Leslie Soto

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Usman Siddiqui