Friday, June 29, 2012

Week 6-Seeking the Bigger Picture & Meeting the Team

After hearing about a variety of research projects that are underway and have been completed on this campus, I am now even more excited about continuing my ongoing project on heart disease. With the legitimate concerns about pandemics of AIDS and behavioral disorders, it's easy to forget that cardiovascular disease kills more people each year worldwide than any other disease. We've grown so accustomed to hearing about heart disease that we even consider it a natural cause of death and tend to disregard a comprehensive solution to an obvious growing issue. I can even attest to the effects of heart disease, as it has personally plagued loved ones and family friends. Some of the most recent well-publicized deaths are even linked to such: Whitney Houston suffered from atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries as a result of fatty materials such as cholesterol. The best part about joining this lab and its ongoing project is the fact that I feel like I am tackling two developments at the same time--discovering the role of a particular protein in heart disease and finding a solution to modulate this protein and, perhaps, a solution to heart disease in general through pharmacodynamics. I am ecstatic that this isn't just a project that stops at the discovery of a particular thing--it seeks to improve the human condition through application.

Even more exciting is the fact that one of my research team members, Ashley, is on the brink of submitting a huge paper that includes data/data analysis dating back (whew..a mouthful) to 2010! A lot of what she is including in her paper predates the contributions I have made since joining the lab; however, the implications of a successful publication are enormous for the rest of the lab work to follow.

Speaking of my research team, allow me to introduce you to some of them! They have been a part of Dr. McConnell's lab for as long as he has been a PI, and I can assure you they are a TREMENDOUS help (and motivation) to my research experience:

Name: Cori Wijaya
Education: B.S. in Biochemistry-University of Houston
What sparked her interest in researchShe started doing research work during one summer in her undergraduate senior year. She found that doing hands-on work in the lab helped her with her studying: what she read in her textbooks actually started to make sense! As she graduated and started working in the lab, she found it exciting to do experiments that helped to elucidate the questions and hypothesis of the research work.
The best part about her experience in Dr. McConnell's lab: Getting to know people who share her knowledge and skills
Advice she gave me about continuing to pursue research: Keep a curious and open mind. Research is a long process with so many little things to take care of-but be glad that you are a part of it. Spend a long enough time in one lab to learn something, but also give yourself a chance to try a different lab and see how other labs work differently.

Name: Abeer Rababa'h
EducationMaster degree in Clinical Pharmacology/ Jordan University of Science and Technology
What sparked her interest in researchShe has an interest in correlating and interpreting data into biological facts that help downstream in achieving new clinical aspects.
The best part about her experience in Dr. McConnell's labResearch with Dr. McConnell gives her the opportunity to interpret many findings in a logical way, find explanations for every single piece of data, convert bored data into exciting findings, look for something from a different point of view in a comfortable friendly research environment.
Advice she gave me about continuing to pursue research: My advice is to get as much experience as you can from the lab. Every small contribution may participate in a big achievement in your career goal. Challenge yourself and be patient. Being hard working is a requirement for the research road.

Name: Andrea Diaz Diaz
EducationB.S. in Biology and Biochemistry-University of Houston
What sparked her interest in research: She took some classes in college with a wonderful teacher that motivated her to do research.
The best part about her experience in Dr. McConnell's lab: She gets to do surgeries (on mice, that is!)
Advice she gave me about continuing to pursue research: It is a very interesting career where you can learn many things about any topic you are interested in!

X-Ray Film Processor

Developing the Film-Western Blot

Labeling the Film

Discovery Workshop-Using EndNote for your References

Program: EndNote

Heart Tissue Stored in Ethanol

Collected Heart Tissue

Moving Tissue to Histology Cassettes

Moving Tissue to Histology Cassettes


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