June 12, 2017

Spotlight on: Students' summer research

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While you are hopefully taking time to enjoy your summer before medical school, the class of 2020 who just completed their first year of medical school is embarking on the last summer they will have. Students choose various activities to keep themselves busy, and I wanted to highlight a few interesting things that our students are doing over the warm Birmingham summer.

Richard SeeberRichard SeeberWe are fortunate at UAB to have a strong research focus. The administration has ensured that any student interested in pursuing research will have the opportunity to pursue that interest at some point during medical school. Many students opt to do research in the summer between their first and second years. 

Jack WilsonJack WilsonRichard Seeber and Jack Wilson are both researching at UAB this summer. Richard will be working with the transplant division of the department of surgery investigating xenotransplantation using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. He is working with Dr. Joseph Tector and is being sponsored by a grant from the American Society of Transplant Surgeons in addition to some UAB funding with the hope of making animal organs more compatible with humans. Richard’s specific project goal is to use the gene-editing tools of CRISPR/Cas9 to replace the pig CD59 gene with the human CD59 gene. This summer, Richard is simultaneously managing planning for his October wedding, and he hopes to share with incoming medical students that he has “found UAB to be a wonderful place to study medicine, as our faculty and administrators are rigorously dedicated to teaching, medical student wellness, and cutting-edge research.”

Jack is also researching in surgery this summer with Dr. Shawn Gilbert who is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at UAB Children’s and Dr. Jeff Pearson an orthopedic surgery resident. “I knew before medical school that I had an interest in research, and I wanted to get started as soon as I got my feet on the ground with school,” said Wilson.  He is being funded by the UAB Department of Surgery and has applied for his position through the Medical Student Summer Research Program (MSSRP) sponsored by the school of medicine. Jack will also be spending time volunteering at EAB, the student-run health clinic.  

Barrie SchmittBarrie SchmittBarrie Schmitt is traveling to the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa to work with UAB faculty member Dr. Adrie Steyn. She heard about the opportunity at a Global Health Interest Group meeting in the fall and decided to apply for the position. While Barrie will be focused on studying the metabolic activity of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, she is also excited to explore Durban, travel through South Africa and go on a safari. As someone who is interested in global health, Barrie is excited to research tuberculosis in an area where it is endemic.  

Kristina Tymes WilbekinKristina Tymes-WilbekinKristina Tymes-Wilbekin is focusing a lot of her time this summer on giving back to the community. She is running the Birmingham chapter of Camp Cardiac—a camp founded by Dr. Richard Lee for the purpose of educating high school students interested in entering a medical field. As an M.D./Ph.D. student, Kristina is interested in academic medicine and is excited for the chance to strengthen her mentoring and teaching skills. She, along with the other volunteers, will be instructing the attendees on cardiac health, CPR training, suturing and heart anatomy. In addition, Kristina will be researching with Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UAB. 

These are just a few examples of the diverse and numerous possibilities for you to explore during your next summer. But for now, stay safe and enjoy the rest of this summer before starting medical school! 

Written by Carter Boyd