Samy Lamouille, assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC,  has been named the 2022 Research Mentor of the Year at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM). He will receive the award at this year’s Medical Student Research Symposium, set for Friday, March 25, beginning at noon at the school.

Students repeatedly describe Lamouille, who also holds a faculty appointment in the VTCSOM Department of Basic Science Education and is affiliated with the College of Science's Department of Biological Sciences, as a mentor who empowers them to independently seek answers to research questions.

“Dr. Lamouille’s own curiosity is always on display, and even when you aren't sure if your results are exciting, he is enthusiastic, which inspires his students to continue with vigor,” said Chukwuemeka Uwakaneme, a third-year student who is one of six Lamouille has mentored in recent years.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is one of only a few medical schools in the country that incorporates a mandatory rigorous, multi-year research project in its curriculum as one of its key value domains. Fourth-year students present their comprehensive projects either by oral or poster presentations at the annual symposium.

“It has truly been fantastic working with medical students in my lab,” Lamouille said. “They bring a unique perspective on research and development of novel therapeutics through their clinical experience.”

Nine individuals standing as a group
Lamouille's lab includes, back row from left, Chukwuemeka Uwakaneme '23; Lamouille; Aryo Sorayya '22; Danny Purcell '24; Kenneth Young II, medical student and translational biology, medicine, and health (TBMH) graduate student; and, front row from left, Natalia Sutherland '22; Stacie Deaver, research assistant; and Christina Wheeler, TBMH graduate student. Photo courtesy of Samy Lamouille.

Lamouille joined the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in 2014 to lead research programs on understanding critical regulatory hubs of cancer cell plasticity and resistance to therapies. In doing so, he has identified regulation of cancer cell communication as a novel therapeutic target in the prevention of tumor recurrence.

He is passionate about translational research and entrepreneurship as a way to transform scientific discoveries into potential new treatments for cancer patients. He co-founded Acomhal Research Inc., a spinoff company out of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, to advance solutions to fight brain cancer.

“Dr. Lamouille’s first instinct always stems from a place of equality, regardless of the level of the person he is speaking to,” Uwakaneme said. “His expectations are always made clear, and always in an understanding way.”

Lamouille has been mentoring VTCSOM medical students for seven years.

“I strongly believe working in a research laboratory provides medical students valuable skills and appreciation for research to take with them as they develop as clinicians and, for some, become leaders of their own laboratories as physician scientists,” he said.

Natalia Sutherland, fourth-year student, credits Lamouille with supporting her and keeping her focused on her complex project.

“Dr. Lamouille has been instrumental in my medical school career,” she said. “He’s been incredibly supportive and a wonderful research mentor who is really excited about my research.”

Jean Sabile '20, now a second-year internal medicine resident at Oregon Health & Sciences University and Lamouille’s first medical student mentee, feels Lamouille was instrumental in his development as a physician and growth as a scientist.

“I genuinely believe that honing my curiosity in the lab has helped me think critically about how I care for my patients. Dr. Lamouille’s mentorship has been an inspiration for not only how I approach patient care, but the mentorship among junior residents and learners in the hospital,” Sabile said.

Lamouille obtained his Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from the University of Grenoble, France, before undertaking postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco, where he identified key signaling pathways controlling cancer metastasis. He has experience in three different biotech start-up companies, one of which he founded in 2016 where he currently serves as chief executive officer in addition to his academic roles.

For an agenda and list of student presentations at the symposium visit the medical school’s events page.

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