My name is Hrishit Shah. I am a Junior majoring in neuroscience. I do research in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department in Dr. Amy Wagner’s Lab. In the United States, over one-third of individuals hospitalized due to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) experience the onset of a long-term TBI-related disability or a resulting, chronic condition such as impaired cognition, depression, or post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE). Among many secondary injury mechanisms after TBI, there is compelling evidence that prolonged post-traumatic inflammation is associated with the onset of unfavorable chronic conditions. Hence for my project this semester, I will be investigating post-TBI systemic inflammation to characterize correlations between inflammatory load and presence of a seizure event. This approach may aid in the development of a specific biomarker-oriented precision medicine approach in treating patients with epilepsy. I feel that this research is really important for 2 reasons: Firstly, Epilepsy is a condition which does not have cure and is therefore one of the most prevalent brain disorders out there which varies in its nature depending on the patient. Hence, trying to find new treatment and therapies for people with epilepsy is important as they could improve the quality of life for the patients. Secondly, my uncle back in India suffers from epilepsy hence I have always had a personal connect to the disease and have had firsthand experience of looking at how unpredictable this disease it.
Currently, I am on the pre-med track and will be applying to medical school soon, but with that I also want to continue doing research at Pitt as it has been a wonderful learning experience. CURF has motivated me to become a more well-rounded person in the field of medicine. I feel it symbolizes the fact that treating patients is important but doing research at the grassroot level with can further be used to develop new treatments and technologies. It also helps students like me to start thinking about the problems that exist in medicine and provides us with the guidance to come up with a solution for the same. This idea of solving problems seems very simple but one can only realize the advantages of starting research early in the undergraduate career later in life and CURF is facilitating that. CURF will also help me learn from other students who received the fellowship about the research they are doing and hence broaden my horizons.
One unique thing about me is that I have been born and brough up in India and I have travelled to all 7 continents.