“I learned scientific techniques in classes but better understood the real-world uses of them when I started working in the lab.”
I spent the summer working in a lab in the Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation Program at the University of Minnesota, thanks to a Macalester program. My research focused on sickle-cell anemia.
Sickle-cell anemia is characterized by the breakdown of red blood cells, which releases hemoglobin, causing inflammation and pain. My research involved the genetic engineering of a gene called haptoglobin. Its namesake protein binds to hemoglobin and is removed from the body, thus reducing the negative consequences.
My biology professors advised me to apply for this program so I could do translational biomedical research. Without Mac, this opportunity would not have been available to me as an international student; most research opportunities like this are limited to U.S. citizens.
Taking lab courses at Mac prepared me well for this opportunity. I learned scientific techniques in genetics, biochemistry, and other science courses, but I better understood the real-world uses of them when I started working in the lab. While there were occasions during my summer research when I encountered a new concept or lab technique, I always possessed the critical thinking and research skills I needed to succeed.
Seeing the real-world applications of the lab techniques I learned in class was the best part of my research experience. This program will make me a better physician because I now have a deeper understanding of medicine’s connections to research.