By Eshanika Chaudhary
Hi everyone! As I’m sure you all know, my group’s time at Cedars through CIRM is coming to an end, and all I can say is… time flies when you’re having fun! Just kidding, I have to write like 600 words, so I’m going to have to elaborate a bit. But seriously, I’m shocked at how quickly the past few weeks have gone by, which I guess proves I was having a really good time! I’ve learned so much, met some really amazing people, and quite frankly I think I’ve matured as a person as well.
I was working on the video we’re making for the CIRM conference, and as I was putting it together it kind of dawned on me how lucky I am to have been a part of this program. I mean, I’m in high school and I’m doing research in a cutting edge field in a cutting edge lab! I got to do a lot of my own experiments, which I was thrilled about, including staining organ culture cells for imaging and running quantitative PCR (after also extracting the RNA and deriving the cDNA from it!), and I have a poster to show for it. It was also really interesting to see how everything we do in research directly applies to people in need. Personally, I’ve thought a lot about if research is for me because the thing I love most about medicine is the human aspect, and doing things like visiting the ALS clinic and hearing about clinical trials for other projects from my lab made me realize that I don’t have to give that up to pursue research and showed me how wide-reaching the effects of one lab’s research can be.
The next few months are going to be really busy for me with college applications and that, and I think that the experiences I’ve had here both in and out of the lab given me a lot to think about in terms of what I want to do with my future. For example, I thought I would for sure apply to a combined undergrad/med program, but after talking to some MD/PhDs that I’ve met through my time here, I’m beginning to think that a combined MD/PhD program after I get my Bachelor’s might be a better fit for me. I’m also getting a feel for the type of research I might be interested in now that I’ve had exposure to a wet-lab environment, and that’s definitely having a huge influence on my plans.
Overall, I think working in a real-life environment has given me a much more comprehensive and accurate idea of what it would be like to work in a lab, and while I’ve known I’ve wanted to do something related to science/medicine since a very early age, this program has gotten me very excited about research in particular.