MUSM student selected for infectious diseases research grant

The G.E.R.M. program supported research conducted by, l-r, Melissa Visalli, research associate; Mikalah Maury, MS-2; and Robert Visalli, Ph.D., professor and director of student research. Photo by John Carrington.

SAVANNAH – Mikalah Maury, a second-year medical student at Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM), was recently awarded research funding through the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Foundation and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) Grant for Emerging Researchers/Clinicians Mentorship (G.E.R.M.) Program.

The G.E.R.M. Program was developed by the IDSA and HIVMA to provide grants to medical students to support a longitudinal, mentored clinical learning and/or research project for up to a year on infectious diseases-related topics under the mentorship of an IDSA or HIVMA member. With funding and mentored support, awardees are able to increase their analytical, research and clinical skills while conducting an infectious disease or HIV-related project of their choice. 

Maury’s G.E.R.M. grant will provide a $4,000 stipend for one year, supporting her research under the mentorship of Robert Visalli, Ph.D., professor and director of student research on MUSM’s Savannah campus. Their research project explores a potential relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and herpes simplex virus type 1.

Maury, from Snellville, participated in MUSM’s 2022 Summer Scholars program and recently presented her work at MUSM’s annual summer research symposium.

“I am excited to serve the state of Georgia in the future as a physician and thankful for the opportunity to conduct this kind of critical research in the Visalli laboratory,” said Maury, who is the first Mercer student to receive this competitive grant.

“Microbiology researchers and infectious disease specialists have been crucial for developing medicines and providing treatments to save lives for decades,” said Dr. Visalli. “Mikalah’s specific project involves an evolving concept that certain herpesviruses may be co-factors in other diseases, in this case Alzheimer’s Disease. It was really exciting working with Mikalah and we were proud to act as the mentoring lab for her summer research. For Mikalah to be one of only 40 recipients nationwide was a wonderful accomplishment for her, Mercer, and our lab.”

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened additional four-year M.D. campuses in Savannah in 2008 and in Columbus in 2021. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School’s primary teaching hospitals: Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and Piedmont Macon Medical Centers in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master’s degrees in preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences and a Ph.D. in rural health sciences in Macon and a master’s degree in family therapy in Macon and Atlanta.