Nikita Dave, a second year medical student at NJMS, attended the 4th Annual Advances in Thoracic Surgical Oncology Conference, a two-day conference held from October 6-7, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dave was one of over 40 research posters at the symposium on Friday evening, and it was attended by a multifold of thoracic surgeons, oncologists, nurses and physician assistants from all over the world. Judges circulated and viewed each poster to select winners and Dave was awarded the 2017 People's Choice Award the following day with an honorarium. The award is given to the poster that garner the most interest from the attendees and was one of four awards given to participants that day. The other awards included 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for Best Poster.

Through her research, Dave has identified 54 patients with esophageal carcinoma who underwent esophagectomy at Sloan Kettering and later developed metastasis to the brain. This is the largest cohort of patients with brain metastasis from esophageal cancer in the world, to date. Although the incidence rate of brain metastasis from this cancer is usually only 2%, Dave identified a subgroup of patients with esophageal cancer who have a 6 times higher likelihood of developing brain metastasis, which warrants monitoring these patients with routine brain MRIs. This subgroup of patients was composed of patients who received neo-adjuvant chemoradiation prior to their esophagectomy. This is the first time this correlation between brain metastasis and neo-adjuvant chemoradiation has been described for esophageal carcinoma in the literature. 

Dave started and finished this research project over a span of 10 weeks this summer through the Summer Fellowship Program for Medical Students at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and she worked with Dr. Daniela Molena, M.D., who is a thoracic surgeon there.