AHA Summer Research
Over the summer, I was fortunate to work under Dr. Lisa Jennings and Michael Herr in the Vascular Biology Department. More specifically, I studied the function of a membrane protein, Tetraspanin CD9, in Human Aortic Smooth Muscle cells. As part of my research I utilized techniques such as Western Blotting, Flow Cytometry and Contraction Assays.
During my time in the lab, I was able to learn a wide variety of techniques by working with a graduate student, and eventually conducted experiments on my own. This experience allowed me to use knowledge that I gained during my M1 year, as well as gain skills that will help me in the future.
I initially applied to the NIH summer program, and chose Dr. Jennings as a mentor because her research was similar to my previous research experience. Once I was accepted into her lab, I was able to enter the AHA summer research program. Since you only have two months to complete a research project, it is important to find a lab where you can fit in and contribute from the beginning. It is also crucial to make sure you will get along with the others in the lab, as you will spend the majority of your last free summer with them.
Spending your last free summer doing research is a great way to take a break from the intense studying of M1 and M2 year, while making yourself a more competitive residency applicant. Memorizing passages from a textbook will help you make better grades, but the hands on experience of working in a lab will help you become a better physician.