Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
I was fortunate enough to spend this summer as a research intern at the Hormoz Lab in Boston under the mentorship of Dr. Christoph Budjan. The Hormoz Lab is focused on developmental biology, and Dr. Budjan’s research is on the topics of paraxial mesoderm development and the segmentation clock. I was very excited to work with Dr. Budjan on this topic, as my previous research experience has been on the topics of neuroscience and plant cell biology, therefore I was looking forward to expanding on my biological research experience.
I began by learning more about developmental biology and Dr. Budjan was very patient and kind with me, always carefully walking me through methods and its background in biology, as well as providing me with other online resources. After becoming familiar with the background in biology, I then focused my learning on image analysis using Fiji/ImageJ and data analysis using R programming.
After laying the foundation, it was time to actually put what I had learned to use. One of my projects for image analysis required the creation of a script in Fiji/ImageJ that generates diameter and radius from images taken of organoids. Another project I worked on was the quantification of the number of somites found in organoids from the secondary screen using N-cadherin (a structural marker used to visualize somites) immunostaining as the basis for quantification. The third project was on single cell RNA-sequencing analysis, wherein single cells were collected from the organoids from each day of differentiation for a more in-depth look at the organoid differentiation in single-cell resolution, which involves learning to use the Seurat package in R and learning about the background on RNAseq technology and high-dimensional data analysis.
I have been interested in the research field since high school, and I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity to expand my research knowledge and experiences. Recently, I’ve been considering going the MD/Ph.D. route, and my internship has made me decide that even if I choose not to ultimately go in that direction, I will still definitely figure out a way to continue to pursue research as a physician. In terms of future course selection, I am thinking of taking two advanced biology classes, Chronobiology and Integrative Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Proteomics to continue to build on what I’ve learned this summer.
Finally, I would like to express how thankful I am to all those who have supported me thus far. To my research mentor Dr. Budjan, to my ASIP sponsor Mr. Martin J. Collins ’86 and the entire ’68 Center for Career Exploration staff, especially Dawn Dellea—thank you. You have my sincerest gratitude and appreciation. With their help and support, I have been able to pursue the experience of a lifetime that has further affirmed my interests in research and medicine. I thank you all sincerely for believing in me and my abilities to learn and excel.