Research Biographies

The best advice I received as a first year was to find something to do that will remind you why you wanted to become a doctor before starting M1. For some people, that's research. With interests in surgery and immunology, I found my summer spot in the Department of Surgery at St. Jude, where I am continuing work during my M2 year.

I'm working with Dr. John Sandoval, a pediatric surgical oncologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, on 3 clinical projects. The three projects are centered on: splenectomy in pediatric ITP patients, Ewing's Sarcoma of the head and neck in pediatric cancer patients, and pediatric head and neck melanoma. They are all retrospective studies examining uncommon patient populations that find themselves in Memphis for treatment at St. Jude.

One of the neat things about St. Jude is that it offers very interactive research opportunities. Working on the melanoma project, I could review a patient's chart while building the research database, head downstairs to attend their clinic visit, and also be present for any surgical procedures that required they spend time in the OR. I got to know many patients and their families, which made the work I was doing more meaningful to me.

I think my experience at St. Jude allowed me to use some of the knowledge I had gained during my M1 year and explore how it would eventually translate into patient care and research. Summer research is a good way to break from the intense studying of the first two years and regain some perspective, but my biggest piece of advice would be finding something that reminds you how excited you are to be learning all the things that are coming at you during the first 2 years.

Shea Harrison
St. Jude

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