Rising second-year medical students Racquel Wells and Fei Song were awarded scholarships from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to participate in the 2013 Medical Student Research Program in Diabetes.
With its goals to encourage medical students to consider research in diabetes and its complications as a career and to educate students about diabetes, the Medical Student Research Program in Diabetes allows students to conduct research under the direction of an established scientist in the areas of diabetes, hormone action, physiology, islet cell biology or obesity at an institution with one of the NIDDK-funded Research Centers during the summer between the first and second year or second and third year of medical school.
“The program as a whole has been really helpful to me as far as looking at the opportunities I have to contribute to academic medicine,” said Wells. “It was also exciting to realize that there are more services I may be interested in providing to children than I was aware of upon entering medical school.”
Working with psychologist Ellen O'Donnell, PhD, and pediatric endocrinologist Lynne Levitsky, MD, in the Pediatric Endocrine Unit of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Wells focused on determining relationships between adherence to type 1 diabetes self-care management and ADHD-related symptoms such as inattention and lack of organization.
Fei worked with Anthony Rosenzweig, MD, director of cardiovascular research and associate chief of cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. There she studied the upstream signaling pathways that contribute to serum-mediated induction of miR-222, a microRNA that is hypothesized to play a role in physiologic cardiac hypertrophy as seen in exercise.
The program concluded with a symposium held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville from July 30 to Aug. 1. Participation in the research symposium gave students an opportunity to learn from each other about the many ways research in diabetes can be valuable to patient care. Guest speakers at the conference touched on the benefits of research in academic medicine and what students can aspire to achieve with research endeavors.
“This program has given me valuable guidance on the paths to being a scientist and clinician,” said Fei. “I have a greater appreciation that research is important for the field of medicine as well as for my own future career.”