Research Interns Display Passion for Science
A passion for science was on display Aug. 7 at Cedars-Sinai's Research Internship Program Poster Day as 24 interns presented their studies to their mentors and other members of the scientific community in Harvey Morse Auditorium.
Participants expressed enthusiasm for the program, which provides college and university students with instruction on biomedical research practices, techniques and lab safety and insight into careers in the field.
During the last academic year, about 175 research interns from national and international institutions participated in the program. Among them were students from UCLA, the University of Southern California, the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. The program also is available to "gap year" students who are not currently enrolled in a college or university.
"This experience has opened my eyes. I came here to learn as much as I could, and I am leaving with more than I ever thought," said intern Jonah Doustar, a neuroscience major at Boston University who aspires to become a medical doctor and basic science researcher.
Poster Day, the first event of its kind, provided the interns with the opportunity to discuss their research with the scientific community and develop their networking and communication skills, organizers said. Three prizes, judged by an expert panel of researchers, were awarded for the best posters.
"You have learned what research is all about — getting up in the morning, full of enthusiasm, and testing an experiment. One day, the experiment will work, and it makes all the other days worthwhile," Leon Fine, MD, vice dean of Research and Graduate Research Education and chair and professor of Biomedical Sciences, told the budding scientists.
Among the poster prizewinners was Tania Torbati, a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCLA, who presented her work on Alzheimer's disease.
"We found that the mice injected with certain treatments showed an increase in synapses in the brain. This was very exciting since we know that a lack of synapses is typically the hallmark of cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's," she said. Torbati spent 10 months in the laboratory of Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, PhD, a faculty research scientist and assistant professor of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Sciences at the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute.
The other prizewinners were UCLA student Elijah Kravets, an intern in the laboratory of Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and professor of Medicine; and Livia Wyss, from the laboratory of Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Wyss, a student at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, was awarded a scholarship to participate in the program through the Thrasher-Broidy Fellowship.
Research interns with their faculty mentors and other members of Cedars-Sinai's scientific community on Poster Day. Two dozen interns presented their research at the session.
Launched in April 2014 by Academic Human Resources, the Research Internship Program supports Cedars-Sinai's education and community outreach missions by opening the doors of the campus to students who wish to have hands-on research experiences. The internships typically last from three months to one year. During the summer months, a lecture series also is offered.
Interns are mentored by Cedars-Sinai faculty members. "Our faculty has a passion for teaching," said Tara O'Shea, director of Academic Human Resources. "Our mentors are enthusiastic about sharing their love of science and nurturing the next generation of researchers.
"The program recently enhanced its application process by allowing Cedars-Sinai researchers to post opportunities externally at colleges and universities that provide academic credit for internship courses.
"We received positive feedback from faculty and research interns on this year's lecture series and poster day. We hope to continue to build on the success by enhancing the lecture series and making poster day an annual event," said program advisor Manisha Chaudhary.