This summer, I participated in the Clinical and Translational Science Award Internship program at the University of Pennsylvania, and I was matched to a lab studying the lipid metabolism and cardiovascular disease. My experiments use both GC-MS and mathematical model so that I could use skills and knowledge from both my chemistry and mathematics major. Basically, I am assessing the effects of a new drug on lowering lipid levels in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, which means those patients have unusually high LDL-cholesterol level compared to normal person due to a rare genetic disease, and they do not respond to regular drugs to lower plasma lipid level like statins. Along the process, I understood more about how the education from BMC empowers me in the outside world.
I definitely benefited from the training for research I got in Bryn Mawr College. Back at Bryn Mawr College, I have been working with Dr. Monica Chander for almost two years. I think her strict requirements and guidance prepared me much better than other students from big universities. I am more confident in planning my experiments independently, conducting experiments efficiently and not making basic mistakes. Due to such efficiency and carefulness, I actually got three projects along my internship instead of the originally planned one from my mentors in UPenn.
Also, the close contact with professors in BMC helped me to understand more about establishing and maintaining the mentorship. One important thing I found in this internship is that a good mentorship is more precious than anything else. Before the internship started, I emphasized to my program director that the specific topic of the research is not very important to me at all but a good mentor matters. A good mentor can open the possibility of hundreds of fields to you. And luckily, as I required, my program director got me two really good mentors, who are willing to and feel the need to spend time with me. They respect my time and try to maximize my gaining. They do not only guide me in the lab, but also give advise my future and career goal. The atmosphere in Bryn Mawr teaches me not to be afraid of asking for support and opportunities. This is really useful in a big place like UPenn where there are a lot of opportunities around and you can only ask to grab them by yourself. With this in mind and good mentors, you can really get access to a lot of things. One of the mentors introduces me to some other clinicians and let me shadow the clinical part of the research so that I can understand the whole picture of translational research. The other mentor found me some more projects that I can work on and introduces me to know about other people’s research in the lab. My life is much more colorful than I expected it to be and I enjoy it a lot.
I still have a month left for this internship and I believe that I will enjoy it. I hope what I gained from this summer will accompany me for the rest of the college life.