CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A record 65 research presentations being given by medical residents and students at Charleston Area Medical Center, looking into common health conditions which affect West Virginia’s population.

They gathered at CAMC Center for Learning and Research in Kanawha City Tuesday for the medical center’s 44th annual Research Day, the first research day to be held at the new facility.

CAMC Center for Learning and Research

Fifty of the presenters Tuesday were either CAMC residents or fellows and 15 were medical students from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and WVU School of Medicine.

CAMC Director of the Center for Health Services and Outcomes, Elaine Davis Mattox said the day was consisting of either oral or poster presentations showcasing the research residents and students have conducted over the past year or longer that focused on the specific conditions in the state.

“We have studies involving treatment, studies that involve medical procedures and surgical procedures, and we have our case studies, which are unique and unusual cases that we have seen in West Virginia,” Mattox said.

The original research and case reports given in Tuesday’s presentations included overarching topics ranging from prenatal to geriatric care, as well as specific topics pertaining to diseases and conditions from cancer and urological disorders to substance abuse.

Mattox said one study of much interest that was presented was regarding three sisters in West Virginia who had developed Asbestos-related changes on their lungs.

She said they had been exposed to asbestos throughout their lives, which presents a very serious environmental health risk.

“Their father worked in the asbestos industry throughout his whole career and they recall him coming home covered in asbestos material, so all three of the women now in their later years have developed very serious problems related to it,” said Mattox.

Asbestos has been a very common risk in West Virginia after coal mining, power plants and chemical plants have supported the state’s economy for many decades, all of which have also been occupations linked to asbestos exposure.

Other presentations involved studies on breast cancer, which has been a particularly common disease for women in the state.

James Ferrick, a resident physician at CAMC said he would be presenting an oral presentation on breast cancer and risk factors associated with positive margins within breast cancer patients.

Ferrick told MetroNews that it’s a very significant topic of concern in West Virginia based on those positive margins of patients obtained by surgeons.

“It has been studied within several populations in the past, but not in a more focused population where the patients have more limited progression of their disease,” he said.

He said he and his team of researchers helping him complete the study were interested in seeing what could potentially result in those positive margins and be able to educate patients on the risk factors, as well as make sure they come for timely follow-ups so that they don’t experience poor outcomes later on.

Ferrick said overall, he believes their research on the issue went very well.

“We had some interesting results, somewhat unexpected in a couple of instances actually, and some things confirmed what prior studies had found, as well, but I think this will be very important for breast cancer patients,” said Ferrick.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health, breast cancer makes up nearly 25% of all female cancers. While the majority of it is found in women, it can be found in men, as well.

Mattox said the focus behind the research is to improve the health of all West Virginians.

She said many of these studies will go on to have national attention, with some to get published in nationally-recognized medical journals.

However, Mattox said while the research conducted here gets national attention, they also like to recognize the work locally, as well, which she said is essentially why the research day was started back in 1980.

“So that the people who are here, the people employed by CAMC, who are faculty members, who are members of our research team, can hear all of the presentations and be aware of what’s going on in terms of research here,” she said. “We like people to know we do a lot of things.”

Mattox said all of the presentations that were on electronic posters will be available on CAMCs website for the public to view.

Awards were going to be given out for the most interesting presentations at the end of the day.

This year, the research day saw a record number of submissions at a total of 65.