Military Sports Medicine Fellow Wins AMSSM Inaugural Research Award

Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Jill Sylvester examines a member of the U.S. Naval Academy boxing team during a bout.  Sylvester is a fellow in the USU-based NCC Sports Medicine Fellowship program.  (Courtesy photo)

By Sharon Holland

The sharks were circling but Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Jill Sylvester, a fellow in the National Capital Consortium (NCC) Tri-service Sports Medicine Fellowship program based at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), showed no signs of fear. She was confident, brave, and maintained constant eye contact.

Girl standing in front of a football team
Caring for the U.S. Naval Academy football team is just one of the many
duties of Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Jill Sylvester, a fellow in the National
Capital Consortium Sports Medicine Fellowship program based at USU.
(Courtesy photo)
Sylvester’s confidence and poise paid off as she “swam” to the top with her presentation during the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine’s (AMSSM) inaugural Shark Tank Research Competition held April 25-29, in Orlando, Florida. Sylvester earned not only bragging rights, but a $25,000 research prize.

Sylvester, a Cary, N.C., native who works at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia, applied for the research contest with her proposal, “Using a Mindfulness App to Improve Pain in Osteoarthritis Patients,” in response to a call by the AMSSM for submissions related to osteoarthritis, which is a condition that most sports medicine physicians see on a regular basis in their patients.

The competition was created by the society so that AMSSM members could engage with its Collaborative Research Network leadership and share research ideas. The contest was open to nearly 4,000 physician members of AMSSM and involved three phases: a letter of intent, a complete 15-page grant submission package, and a live 15-minute presentation/response session. The live session took place at the annual meeting, with Sylvester fielding questions from an audience of more than 1,000 physicians and seven expert “sharks.” Sylvester received the top score at each phase of the competition, and was selected as the winner “based on a combination of audience votes, ‘shark’ votes, and an in-depth evaluation of her proposal by a scientific review committee,” according to a statement issued by AMSSM.

A man shakes a woman's hand
Dr. Chad Asplund, new president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, congratulates Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Jill Sylvester, NCC Sports Medicine fellow, following her win of the inaugural AMSSM Shark Tank Research Competition. (Photo by Steven Stovitz/AMSSM)

"The Shark Tank competition was a phenomenal experience. My co-investigators and I were thrilled to present our idea and honored to be selected from a pool of exceptional proposals," said Sylvester.

“It is very rare for a fellow to submit [an entry] to an AMSSM research competition. It is exceptionally rare for a fellow to win,” said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Anthony Beutler, professor in USU’s Department of Family Medicine and director of the NCC Tri-Service Sports Medicine Fellowship program.

Army Maj. (Dr.) Myro Lu, Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Alex Knobloch, and Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Jill Sylvester provided medical support for the annual Marine Corps Marathon as fellows in the NCC Sports Medicine Fellowship program based at USU. (Courtesy photo)

“The NCC now has had two fellow winners in the recent past: Dr. Nate Nye won a top research presentation award in 2014. But Dr. Sylvester is the first-ever recipient of $25,000,” he continued. “These awards are a testament to how well the NCC fellowship prepares its students for success during the program and in future practice."