The Brackenridge Fellows group is a very diverse group of many different disciplines. I was most interested in learning about Rohith Palli’s experience has an MD/Ph.D. student, as well as his research in systems of vaccinology. Although my research background is in protein misfolding, I have always had an interest in immunology and virology. This is one of the main reasons why I chose to major in microbiology.
After my first research experience in Dr. Corlett Wood’s lab in the summer of 2019, I decided to look for a lab position in a biomedical lab. I learned great skills and methods while working for Dr. Wood, however, I was not interested in devoting my entire undergraduate research experience to an ecology and evolution lab. I searched Pitt School of Medicine’s website and stumbled across the Aging Institute. The Aging Institute is a collection of multiple labs that focus broadly on illnesses and mechanisms related to aging. I found Dr. Yvonne Eisele’s research on cardiac amyloidosis and Alzheimer’s intriguing because my grandparents were both battling Alzheimer’s at the time. I thought it would be a great way to learn more about protein misfolding diseases, as well as build my research skills. I sent her an email about an opening for undergraduate positions in her lab. Since joining her lab, Dr. Eisele has been a wonderful mentor and a great source of knowledge. If there are students out there who are looking for a research mentor, I would advise them to search for labs throughout the university’s departments to figure out which topics they find interesting. It is ok to start with a broad search and then narrow it down to a few. When you email your potential mentor, you should show that you have read a bit about their work and communicate what you find interesting.
I want to be a physician-scientist, so connections are pretty much mandatory. Throughout my current undergraduate experience in Dr. Eisele’s lab, I have learned that good connections between the clinical and lab-based sides of medicine are essential. In the future, I would like to make connections like that because clinical experience should inform what lab researchers are targeting. I will also have to make connections within a community of scientists as well as with my patients.