Soah Franklin

Blog Entry 1: 

Hi! My name is Soah and I am an incoming junior at Crossroads School. This was my first week in the Cedars-Sinai CIRM SPARK Program. I am working in the lab of Dr. Mehrnoosh Ghiam, who is studying the role of miRNA in corneal homeostasis. This week, I got to observe the process of harvesting and growing the limbal (peripheral cornea) epithelial cells, prepare buffer solution, and learn about Western blotting. On day one, I watched Mangesh (Dr. Ghiam’s research fellow) analyze the Western blot of the LESC proteins that he had grown. I learned about the reactions between an antigen and the primary and secondary antibodies, and how Dr. Ghiam was using antibodies to evaluate their reaction with human proteins. On day two, I studied ocular anatomy and the layers of the cornea. I learned about the differences between limbal and corneal epithelial cells and read a research article about how micro-RNA’s like miR-146a affected wound healing and cell migration in diabetic patients. Diabetes can lead to ocular complications like keratopathy and can cause problems with epithelial erosions, microbial infections, and delayed wound healing. Dr. Ghiam is researching and trying to understand the role miRNA plays in the regulation of the eye’s stem cells, specifically those in the limbus.

On day three, I got to observe the incredible process of harvesting the epithelial stem cells. It was amazing watching Mangesh dissect and study the primary human eye tissue, which was donated post-mortem from a diabetic patient. I had never seen a dissection of a human organ, so this was a new and exciting experience for me! On day four, I attended my first Knowledge Nosh with my CIRM cohort. Our first speaker was Dr. Kimberly Gregory, and OB-GYN, who gave an inspiring talk on how she overcame adversity to become a doctor. I want to work in obstetrics when I am older, so hearing Dr. Gregory’s talk was especially informative.

Overall, I had a great first week in the CIRM SPARK program. At first, I was intimidated, because I am a little younger than most of my fellow interns, and I didn’t think that I could keep up. But as the week progressed, I felt more confident. My lab supervisors were really understanding and made me feel comfortable about asking questions. This was my first time doing research, and I already know that I want to continue into my adult career. My friends think I’m crazy because I willingly gave up my summer to work in a lab, but I am so happy. I found something that I am truly passionate about – something that makes me excited to wake up in the morning, something that inspires me. Stem cells research is incredible – I am witnessing the future of medicine unfold, and I feel so proud and lucky to be a part of it!

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