Harris Wins Meharry Research Day
Grand Prize

The 57th Annual Student Research Day, “Multiple Facets of A Diabetologist’s Career: A 20 Year Journey,” was held Wednesday, March 13.

Of 136 poster presentations displayed by students in Meharry Medical College's School of Graduate Studies and Research (SOGSR), School of Medicine, and School of Dentistry, the SOGSR's Fredrick Harris was this year's grand prize winner, earning a perfect score.

Meharry Medical College was one of the first medical schools to hold a student research day. Meharry's first, in 1956, was held in connection with its 80th anniversary.

Dr. Charles W. Johnson founded the program and Dr. Landry E. Burgess was its first chairman. Upon Dr. Burgess’ retirement, Dr. James A. Pulliam assumed the chair and held it until his death in January 1991. That year, the Student Research Day Committee unanimously voted to name the student research day lecture the James A. Pulliam Memorial Lecture.

After this year's exhibition of abstracts in Ross Fitness Center, the lecture and awards ceremony was held in the Harold D. West Basic Sciences Building.

Harris, a Ph.D. candidate, was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. He received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2008. Harris said he always knew he wanted to help underprivileged people as a health care provider or researcher.

“I grew up in the Mississippi Delta,” he said. “It was an impoverished area and many people just didn’t go see doctors. I never understood why. Some may have been afraid, while others were just ill-informed.”

Harris said he was attracted to Meharry because of its mission—the Meharry motto, "Worship of God Through Service to Mankind" impressed him.  “Meharry was definitely a change of venue coming from Vanderbilt,” he said. “But, what really stood out for me was Meharry’s mission and motto. I thought about all of the people in the Delta region and how this motto and mission seemed to be talking specifically about them.”  

When Harris initially came to Meharry, he said, two of his professors were “a little hard” on him. He laughs when referring to them. “Those professors knew how to push me and make me succeed even more than I thought I could. They are always available to help me. I truly owe a great deal to them for my success.”

Extremely modest, Harris said his family has been his backbone in everything he has done. “My parents mean everything to me,” he said. “They are my biggest supporters. I talk with my mom every day. We don’t talk about my accomplishments, we just talk about life.”

Harris expects to receive his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences with a concentration in biochemistry and cancer biology in May 2014. He is contemplating attending Meharry’s School of Dentistry after graduation.