News & Stories

Sanaa Mansoor, College of Medicine student

Research That Hits Home

Through the Summer Research Fellowship Program at Northeast Ohio Medical University, medicine or pharmacy students gain intensive training in research procedures by working (often side by side) with research mentorsIn addition to these students, who are paid a stipend by NEOMED, other NEOMED students found funding on their own for summer 2019 internships or programs elsewhere in Ohio, as well as at institutions including the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Harvard University.  

The Summer Research Fellowship Program culminates each year in an event called Poster Day. Below is a reflection by second-year College of Medicine student Sanaa Mansoor on her summer experience.

The Vanderbilt Medical Research Student Research Training Program (SRTP) is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and allows medical students to conduct research under the direction of an established scientist in the field of diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, or digestive disease at Vanderbilt University.

For eight weeks this summer, I had the privilege to be mentored by clinicians, research scientists and experts in the field of diabetes research. We attended weekly lecture seminars, toured research facilities, shadowed clinicians and attended medicine grand rounds. The unique aspect of this summer research program is the process by which they match medical students into research labs. This process is very thorough as they pair students with research mentors based on prior research experiences as well as passions moving forward.

I have always been passionate about diabetes and cardiovascular disease research because of my personal experiences in managing diabetes with my mom. I was very excited to discover that I would be spending my summer in Nashville doing research that mattered to me most. Because of my undergraduate degree in physics, along with my prior research experiences, the directors of this program paired me up with Leon Bellan, Ph.D., in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in type 2 diabetes mellitus. The goal of my project was to focus on the underlying microvasculature system that could be altered based on these disease processes. Over the summer, I was able to produce a network of interconnected capillary-sized channels lined with endothelial cells which can be perfused to produce an in vitro model of capillary networks within thick hydrogels. The significance of this work lies in replicating the capillary architecture complete with endothelialized vasculature in large volumes of engineered tissue.

I am extremely grateful for all of the experiences at Vanderbilt this summer. I began my summer not knowing what to expect, but I came out in August with a lot of hope, passion and motivation to pursue clinical research alongside medicine. To participate in translational research, where I am able to translate findings from my bench research to the bedside of my patients will make it all the more worthwhile for me to manage my patients and their diseases. For the success and advancement of medicine, I believe it is imperative that the medical and scientific community collaborate continuously. By speaking with physicians, scientists are able to gain further insight into how treatments are changing for the better or for the worse and where scientists should shift their focus. It is with the work that we do conducting basic science research in a laboratory that we can bring our findings into the clinical realm, test them through clinical trials, and hope to eventually translate them to the bedside of a patient through pharmacological drugs and therapies.

— Sanaa Mansoor, a second-year College of Medicine student contributed this reflection.