By | Jiaochen Ke ’14
Bronx, New York

“My mentor helped me arrange to shadow two neurosurgeons. I even observed brain tumor surgery in the operating room.”

I spent last spring semester studying archaeology, ancient Greek sculpture, and other elements of Greek history in Athens. Then last summer I was part of a collaborative research program with the University of Minnesota that allowed me to work in a biomedical lab with a physician-scientist. Sometimes it can be challenging to balance my interests in classics and pre-med. Fortunately, my Mac professors have always encouraged me to pursue my diverse interests.

Although I’m a classics major, I have taken several biology and chemistry courses during my premed studies, so I felt well prepared for this biomedical research opportunity.

I worked in  Walter Low’s Department of Neurosurgery lab studying how stem cell therapy might be used to treat strokes. Our lab had already determined that stem cell therapy decreases the area of injury after an ischemic stroke. (Ischemic stroke occurs when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain, depleting the neurons of oxygen and causing the brain cells to die.)

My research results tentatively suggest that stem cells cause more nerve growth factors to be secreted in the brain, which in turn might help prevent neuron death. Along with conducting cutting-edge research, I was able to shadow two neurosurgeons in the clinic and even to observe brain tumor surgery being done.

I’m grateful to have had this research experience, which showed me how laboratory research is connected to a doctor’s work. These last months studying classics in Athens and conducting biomedical research in Minneapolis made me realize why I love Macalester.

January 22 2014

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