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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

DANVILLE, Pa - With two published papers, an oral presentation and a summer working with a Los Angeles spine surgeon, Stephan Aynaszyan got more from Geisinger Commonwealth Medical Research Honors Program than he anticipated when he started two years ago.

“My honors thesis focuses on imaging and nuances with bone quality assessment,” Stephan said. “My first paper was published in Scholarly Research in Progress and then by the North American Spine Society Journal. More recently I had a paper published in The Spine Journal, the top spine journal in the world.” In June, Stephan also gave an oral presentation of his paper published in The Spine Journal in Las Vegas at the Global Spine Congress. “All this work falls under the umbrella of imaging and what is the most optimal way of assessing bone density — an important assessment surgeons need to make before planning spine surgery,” Stephan said.

Stephan began his research as a first-year medical student under the mentorship of Geisinger orthopedic surgeon, Edward DelSole, MD. “I had a strong interest in orthopedics coming into medical school. I like the idea of being able to relieve 20 years of pain by the work of my hands — it’s instant gratification,” Stephan said. “Working with Dr. DelSole solidified my decision to pursue orthopedics. It’s great to have a relationship with him. He really wants students to succeed. He tells us, ‘I want you to go wherever you want to go. Wherever that is, we’re going to get you there.’”

Stephan has been meeting the extra demands of the Medical Research Honors Program because he knows his chosen field is competitive in terms of residency programs. But he’s come to appreciate and enjoy the research itself. “I’ve been gaining more knowledge in statistical analysis, study design and the clinical aspect of research. And working with Dr. DelSole made it even more enjoyable. This program will help me to be a better candidate for residency — it just made sense to do the Honors Program.”
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