By ALEXIS SCHIAZZA (COL ‘19)
“Doctor” is often a term mistakenly reserved for physicians or those who practice medicine. Many people overlook the immense work put into medical research by PhDs, particularly in the fields of Biology and Chemistry. Without these doctors, there would be few advances in medicine for M.D.s to apply to their patients. Here at Georgetown, everyone proudly recognizes the work of our graduate students from the many health science programs, each seeking to make a contribution in the medical sciences.
On Tuesday, October 13, the Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) held their 30th Annual Student Research Day – an eventful day packed with discussions, exhibits, receptions and speeches. This event showcases the individual research projects of students through poster presentations a
nd oral expositions. This year’s event included a range of topics including neurobiology, metabolomics, and cancer research.
Sikoya Ashburn, a second year graduate student of cognitive neuroscience under mentor Guinevere Eden, displayed her research on functional connectivity in the Cerebellum. Ashburn hoped to prove that the Cerebellum contains not only motor networks but also reading pathways that connect by being stimulated from reading or word recognition. She innovatively analyzed fMRIs of the lobule VI in the Cerebellum to establish the presence of active reading networks. In order to further the research, she repeated the tests on subjects with dyslexia. She found that the subjects without dyslexia had stronger reading pathway connections than the subjects with dyslexia.
Amrita Pai, a third year graduate student working under Dr. Katherine Sandberg, displayed her work on hypertension and weight gain in patients who have had oophorectomies. Oophorectomies are ovary removal surgeries. Pai was able to find a positive correlation between sodium intake and hypertension in mice who were selectively sensitive to certain genes. She hopes to find a way to prove that the Gulp1 and Gch1 genes can contribute to the development of hypertension in these patients.
Keynote speaker Jorge Cham, a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, concluded the day of presentations. Cham has published his research in the fields of robotics and brain machine interfaces and he’s also the founder of PhD Comics, a newspaper and web comic strip. Cham’s contribution added to the breadth of research and knowledge shared throughout the event. There are certainly projects of intrigue in all branches of science. Student Research Day has become a Georgetown tradition, inspiring undergraduates to contribute to the groundbreaking medical advances taking place right here on campus.