In January 2020, I started my first co-op as a research technician at Dr. Christiane Wrann’s laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. The research at the Wrann lab focuses on investigating the role of an exercise hormone, irisin, as a therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease using mice models. We also study how the deletion of irisin’s gene impact the progression of Alzheimer’s.
I was involved in understanding the genotype characteristics of transgenic mice undergoing different behavioral or viral injection treatments. I have contributed to the project by performing experiments, presenting results, discussing the necessary next steps for the research, keeping track of inventory and editing grants/papers. I was also in charge of reviewing journal’s guidelines to format our paper accordingly.
Mid-March, Northeastern closed campus due to the pandemic and I returned home to Florida. During this stressful situation, Dr. Wrann and MGH allowed me to stay in the system. Although the work became remote, this led me to learn more computational aspects of research such as image and statistical data analysis. Specifically, I learned the software GraphPad Prism in great depth so that I was given charge of preparing data analysis and 100+ figures for a research paper that is currently under revision. In June, once laboratories increased capacity, I returned to Boston and extended my co-op until Fall classes started.
The team of research technicians and post-doctorate fellows at the Wrann lab were extremely enthusiastic about teaching and guiding me in my scientific journey. They were always happy to explain the science behind techniques and the reasoning of the research. Therefore, my experience surpassed my expectations of being exposed to wet lab techniques. I felt that I was contributing to the basic scientific process of the research.
This experience was an excellent introduction to translational research methods for neurological problems, preparing me for my future goal of entering an MD/PhD program. The co-op program only affirmed that I enjoy being part of the academic process of medicine. I have started my second co-op at Northeastern’s Action Lab under the Schafer Research Scholarship and I am excited for another exceptional learning experience for the next 6 months.