A Reflection On My CURF Experience

               I believe my understanding of research over the course of this semester progressed from an initial belief that every experiment would be straight forward with few disruptions, to a more mature realization that research projects often take time and patience in order to obtain the results desired. I believe most people being research with the same mindset that I had, especially when they read research publications that are ordered and follow a clear line of thought (for the most part) from start to end. However, I realized fairly early into my research career here at Pitt that it often times does not turn out this way in the lab. Instead, it takes an open-minded and patient individual to understand that setbacks may occur, and from those setbacks useful strides in a research project can be accomplished. For instance, not getting the desired output or the intended result from an experiment can lead to additional hypothesis that are more interesting to pursue. Or, maybe a failed experiment can tell someone they need to be more careful the next time they perform that experiment. In all, I certainly learned that research is not a linear process, but takes patient, persistence, and an open mind to become an effect researcher.

               The most valuable aspect of my CURF experience that I will take with me has been the variety of differing perspectives on research offered by other CURF scholars. Through reading most of the blog posts submitted by other researchers, I have truly enjoyed hearing others experience some of the same feelings that I have had about research, as well as hearing stories and perspectives that introduced me to viewpoints on research that are different from mine. With these differing perspectives, I believe I evidently learned more about myself after reflecting on my own future desires and current research experience.

               After this semester, I plan on continuing research over the summer in my current lab under the guidance of Dr. Kabirul Islam. As stated in previous posts, it has been a desire of mine for quite some time to obtain my MD/PhD so as to translate the research knowledge obtained in the lab and cross-apply that knowledge to the bedside and vise versa. With this, I can fulfil my desire of learning more about the underpinnings of disease and microbial pathogenesis while at the same time using that knowledge to help improve the lives of those affected.

The figure above represents MALDI-MS data indicating the demethylation of the substrate, CUGGm6ACUGG, mRNA oligomer by WT and mutant FTO proteins. In the first panel, the substrate is the methylated mRNA with a mass of 3010 Da. With the addition of the WT or mutant FTO proteins, the mass 2997 Da appears, indicating the demethylation of the target substrate by the proteins, changing the substrate to the product, CUGGACUGG. I commonly use MALDI-MS as my experimental readout of data for it is easy and quick to do so.

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