PhD Student Megan Yardley Wins USC Graduate Research Symposium Health Sciences Competition

You’ve Got Five Minutes to Explain Your Very Complicated Research

And that’s exactly what School of Pharmacy student Megan Yardley did to win this year’s Graduate Research Symposium Health Sciences Competition held at Aresty Auditorium on April 10.
Yardley, who will receive her PhD in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology at this year’s commencement, effectively communicated the crux of her work designed to prevent and/or treat alcohol disorders by using the drug, ivermectin. A panel of judges declared her the winning presentater, and she took home the $1,000 top prize.

The competition protocol requires participants to present their research within a five-minute timeframe with the use of only one slide. The idea is to help students learn to accurately describe their work in a kind of elevator pitch, succinctly making a take-home message clear about the work itself and the potential it presents.

To engage her audience, Yardley opened her presentation with a snapshot of the national impact of alcohol use disorders, resulting in a $235 billion annual cost to the nation. She then went on to describe the potential of using ivermectin, a currently available antiparasitic medication, for reducing alcohol intake. Ultimately, her studies have set the stage for a clinical trial for this new indication of the drug.

The twenty students who competed in the symposium represented the School of Pharmacy, Keck School of Medicine, Viterbi School of Engineering, Davis School of Gerontology, and Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. From the full pool of presenters, judges choose five finalists who were then questioned in a final round. In addition to Yardley, School of Pharmacy students Sheraz Khoja, Harsh Sancheti and Martha Pastuszka also competed.

Yardley is a student in the labs of Associate Professor Daryl Davies and the late Professor Ronald Alkana. In addition to receiving her doctorate degree next month, she will also be granted an MS in Management of Drug Development.

The Graduate Student Symposium Competition is a programs of the USC Graduate Student Government and sponsored by The Graduate School, Keck School of Medicine, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Ostrow School of Dentistry, Viterbi School of Engineering, Rossier School of Education and Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences.