Spotlight on Research 2011

September 2011 (historical)

Featured NIAMS Interns — Summer 2011

The NIAMS offers a Summer Research Program that provides outstanding opportunities for high school, undergraduate, graduate and medical students contemplating a career in biomedical research or academic medicine. The interns learn new skills, receive career mentoring from NIAMS researchers, attend lectures and symposia, engage in basic and clinical research and gain credentials that help them pursue their career goals.

Robert Chen

Robert Chen is a first-year graduate student at the William E. Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester with a concentration in marketing. Robert was a returning summer intern in the NIAMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison. He was eager to meet this summer’s new interns. “Once again, I have found that the NIAMS interns are a diverse group of tremendously talented and driven students. I really enjoyed learning about their experiences, and it is my pleasure to share with you some of their stories.”

Ayodele Akosile

Ayodele Akosile is a native of Washington, D.C., and a high school senior at the School for Educational Evolution and Development in Washington, D.C. Ayodele spent his summer at the NIAMS assisting Mildred Wilson, Research Nurse Specialist in the Office of the Clinical Director, with her work on the Bisphosphonate Users Radiographic Characteristics of the Hip (BURCH) study. This study involves examining the effect of bisphosphonates on the shape and structure of the hip bone. This internship helped him appreciate the work and time that goes into creating and conducting studies of this type, and, in particular, understanding the process of developing scientific conclusions. Ayodele has a wide array of interests and wants to explore them all. He hopes to attend either Harvard College or Rutgers University. Ayodele decided to apply for an internship at the NIH after he attended a tour of the campus hosted by the NIAMS with his school last year. He really enjoyed the people and the atmosphere in the clinical area. Ayodele strongly believes that anyone hoping to further their career in science should strive to become an intern at the NIH.

Jason Arora

Jason Arora, from Bethesda, Maryland, is a junior at the University of Maryland who is majoring in electrical engineering. He hopes to pursue a doctorate degree and eventually a career working with microprocessors. Jason spent his summer in the Lab of Structural Biology Research working on developing software to create large 3-D models from smaller and more basic component models. During his time here, he was able to familiarize himself with a new programming language, and he learned a great deal about structural biology. Jason found the interactive atmosphere at the NIH to be very engaging, and was delighted by the number of lectures and events available to the summer interns. Jason has gained valuable research experience, and has confirmed his interest in electrical engineering.

Paul Bible

Paul Bible is a graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette pursuing a doctorate degree in computer science. He returned to the NIAMS Intramural Research Program this summer for a second internship, and is interested in pursuing a career in biomedical research focusing on bioinformatics and computation biology. While working in the BioData Mining and Discovery Section at the NIAMS, Paul worked on ChIP-seq data analysis. He found that the experience gave him a better focus on his career goals and opened new doors for more opportunities. Paul was surprised to find that the researchers at the NIH are relaxed, fun and eager to engage. He especially enjoyed spending time with, and gaining new insights from, his mentor Dr. Hong-Wei Sun, who has more than 20 years of experience in bioinformatics.

Nathan Bradley

Nathan Bradley, a native of Wichita, Kansas, is a sophomore at The Johns Hopkins University who is double-majoring in molecular and cellular biology, and political science. He spent his summer in the lab of NIAMS Acting Clinical Director Dr. Richard Siegel, working with Dr. Francoise Meylan to examine the role of the cytokine TL1A and its receptor DR3 in gut inflammation. Nathan was happy to find that the atmosphere at the NIH was a friendly mixture of fun and work, and he was also deeply impressed with the scientists’ dedication to mentorship. He described his experiences at the NIH as “invigorating” because he was able to learn something new every day. Nathan enjoyed observing the doctor-patient interactions and getting involved in the more clinical aspects of science.

Jesse Cobell

Jesse Cobell, from Camas, Washington, is a junior studying neuroscience at Brigham Young University. He hopes to pursue a career in medicine, and spent his summer in the lab of Dr. Rafael Casellas. Jesse did immunologic and genetic research, and found the experience to be fast-paced and intellectually stimulating. During his time in the NIAMS summer internship program, Jesse found several great mentors who were very passionate about their work and who have deeply inspired Jesse to consider a career involving research.

Emma Cogan

Emma Cogan is a senior at Loyola University majoring in history and philosophy. She interned in the NIAMS Office of the Director, and had a variety of responsibilities involving administrative support. She hopes to apply to graduate school for politics or history, and her time spent in an office setting has helped to reinforce her career goals. Emma greatly enjoyed the fast-paced lifestyle, and she quickly learned new tasks. She found that the office had a very positive atmosphere and described it as “stimulating” and “a great place to work.”

Daquan Daly

Daquan Daly is a rising high school senior attending Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He spent his summer in the lab of NIAMS Scientific Director Dr. John O’Shea, under the mentorship of Dr. Kentner Singleton, and worked on Long Non-Coding RNA Expression in Th1 lymphocytes. Daquan was pleased to find many opportunities to reach outside his lab for additional learning or collaboration. Daquan’s experiences at the NIH helped to define his interests in immunology and ophthalmology. He also received exposure to the clinical side of treating patients, and is strongly considering becoming a physician-scientist.

Robin Garrison

Robin Garrison is a recent graduate of Tuskegee University in Alabama. Robin spent her summer conducting research in two NIH laboratories – the NIAMS Translational Autoinflammatory Branch and the NIAID Vaccine Research Center – where she was involved in a collaborative study on Behçet’s Disease. She compared inflammatory markers of healthy control, as well as Behçet’s Disease peripheral blood mononuclear cells from individuals in America versus individuals in Turkey (a country where this disease is common). In 2007, Robin was one of 1,000 recipients in the United States of the Gates Millennium Scholarship. She was selected from more than 11,000 applicants. Working at the NIAMS this summer gave her the motivation to continue working toward her career goals. Robin really enjoyed working with the people in these labs; it was never boring and she learned something new each and every day. She plans to attend medical school.

Atoussa Halary Atoussa Halary, whose family is originally from Iran, was born and raised in Paris, France. She now resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is a junior at the University of Maryland majoring in biology. In addition to English, Atoussa speaks French and Farsi. She hopes to pursue a career in dentistry, but would also like to continue doing research at the NIAMS. Atoussa spent her summer working with Jim Simone, Section Leader of the Flow Cytometry Group in the Office of Science and Technology, assessing IL-23 receptor expression in human leukocytes. This project involved comparing freshly prepared blood samples with cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to determine differences in the results of the two methods. Atoussa’s experience was more valuable and rewarding than she expected. She felt that her research this summer was making a difference, and appreciated that the people at the NIH are very driven and productive.

Brandon Jones

Brandon Jones is a recent graduate of Montgomery College and will be attending Stevenson University to major in biotechnology this fall. Brandon was a participant in the recently- launched NIH Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP). He spent his summer in the Laboratory of Structural Biology Research in the NIAMS, and worked on developing a protocol to lyse influenza A viruses to release their ribonucleoproteins. Brandon gained exposure to “real-world research” and was pleased to discover many opportunities to design and conduct his own experiments. He greatly enjoyed learning new lab techniques and familiarizing himself with different computer programs. Brandon wants to pursue a doctorate degree and to conduct research in the field of biotechnology.

Nafiz Khan

Nafiz Khan is a sophomore at Orange County Community College/SUNY Orange in Middletown, New York, majoring in biological science, and a participant in the NIH Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP). He spent his summer in the laboratory of Dr. Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky working on cytokine analysis and clinical implications of Behçet’s Disease. The summer experience at the NIAMS allowed Nafiz to gain invaluable research experience and allowed him to learn about the many different career opportunities available at the NIH. In addition, he was exposed to the many different pathways that he can take to achieve his career goals. Nafiz is an aspiring medical student and hopes to pursue a career in general or reconstructive surgery.

Jessica Myles

Jessica Myles is a sophomore at Montgomery College studying nursing, and has five years of previous experience at the NIH. She hopes to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. Jessica spent her summer as an intern in the NIAMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison where she performed a variety of administrative tasks. During her time here, Jessica improved her communication skills and ability to integrate into a team dynamic. She received exposure to the executive aspects of the NIH, as well as to a wide range of different professional perspectives. Because of her experience at the NIAMS, Jessica is now considering a career in administrative science.

Ishaka Oche

Originally from Nigeria, Ishaka Oche is a graduate of the Morehouse School of Medicine with a master of science in clinical research. She is interested in pursuing a career in public health. Ishaka spent her summer working with Dr. Tim Bhattacharyya on the Bisphophonates Users Radiographic Characteristics of the Hip (BURCH) study. She found that the NIH offers many great opportunities for learning through informative seminars and the ability to collaborate with scientists in other fields. Ishaka is interested in studying the epidemiology of chronic diseases.

Nora Ortega

Nora Ortega, from El Paso, Texas, is a sophomore at El Paso Community College majoring in cell and molecular biochemistry. She spent her summer in the Laboratory of Molecular Immunogenetics with NIAMS Deputy Scientific Director Dr. Juan Rivera, and worked on the “Role of Sphingosine Kinase 1 and Sphingosine Kinase 2 in Anti-Collagen Induced Arthritis” study. Nora found that spending a summer away from home was a great life-learning experience, and she enjoyed being exposed to a variety of new molecular biology lab techniques. She also gained a better perspective on bench research, as well as how to frame and analyze different problems. Nora’s experience helped to intensify her interest in working on translational research as a physician-scientist in the future.

Jalyssa Pettaway

Jalyssa Pettaway is a senior at Morgan State University majoring in biology with the intention of pursuing a doctorate degree in pharmacy. She spent her summer in the Lab of Molecular Immunology and Inflammation and worked on research of the cytokine expression of Gamma Delta T cells (γ T cells) in the small intestine. Jalyssa was very interested in working with people from all around the world and learning about different types of collaborative research being conducted both inside and outside of the U.S. Her experience this summer helped her gain perspective on a variety of different approaches to problem-solving.

Jacob Turner

Jacob Turner is a third-year student in the Biomedical Engineering Program at the University of Cincinnati. His summer research experience at the NIH was part of a 6-month co-op program in which he spent his time in the lab of NIAMS Scientific Director Dr. John O’Shea. In this program, Jacob worked on programming for next-generation sequencing data analysis and molecular genetics experiments. He found the discovery and learning atmosphere at the NIAMS to be very exciting, and particularly enjoyed his daily interactions with the professionals at the NIH. Jacob’s experience has helped to confirm his career goal of biomedical research.