|Not your Typical Summer Vacation: OSU Veterinary Student Interns at NIH|
(August 22, 2012 Stillwater, OK) – With her first year of veterinary medicine school under her belt, Scharlet Kelly of San Diego, Calif., didn’t spend her summer vacation catching up on lost sleep or lounging by the pool.Instead, she spent nearly three months in Bethesda, Md., working with a researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Kelly worked with the director of the Animal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Core, located within a division of NIH in the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.The focus is to image model animals for different researchers in the Institute who are working to fulfill the mission of NIH, to gain knowledge about living systems to mitigate, prevent and improve disease detection, with the goal of advancing medical science to benefit public health.
“Some procedures performed by the Animal MRI Core are cardiac MRI, tumor perfusion studies, kidney studies and angiography (the study of blood vessels),” explains Kelly.“One study used MRI to examine the patterns of fibrosis, or scarring, in elderly rat hearts and hearts with myocardial infarction (heart attack).The researcher’s goal is to develop methods using these studies to improve diagnostic methods for defining fibrosis in a clinical setting.”
Kelly was also able to assist other researchers using different imaging modalities—ultrasound and CT (computed topography).These studies included cardiac ultrasound, liver tumor studies, and imaging rodent bones, brains and lungs.
“The majority of experiments are carried out to see how some variable—genetic mutation, injury or aging—expresses itself compared to controls.Research results relate directly to human and veterinary medicine in terms of disease detection, prevention and treatment,” she adds.
During her internship, Kelly was able to use skills directly transferrable to veterinary medicine, such as physiological monitoring of animals under anesthesia and during recovery, venipuncture, and surgical suturing techniques.She was also exposed to the research investigative model which helps researchers understand what questions to ask, given the set of information available based on current discoveries.
“The advanced equipment available at NIH is amazing,” says Kelly.“For example, the MRI unit at OSU’s veterinary hospital uses a magnetic field strength of 1.5 Tesla.At NIH we use a 7 Tesla magnet regularly for small animals and have the capability to use a 14 Tesla magnet.I was also given the opportunity to perform microsurgery under the direct supervision of a DVM and veterinary technicians.It was an incredible experience and I learned a skill set I will use again.”
In addition to her research related activities, Scharlet participated in networking luncheons, attended scientific journal clubs and presented at the NIH Summer Intern Poster Day, which gives interns the opportunity to present their summer research.
“NIH provided several orientations for interns covering how to keep a lab notebook, the basics of the research environment, tips on reading or writing a scientific paper, and poster presenting,” she adds.
Kelly offers encouraging words to students who might be thinking about participating in a future NIH Summer Intern Program.
“I suggest that you personally contact individual research project investigators who are doing research that sounds interesting.Be honest about your skills and experiences.You don’t really know what life experience you’ve had that might appeal to a potential research mentor.And take advantage of the surrounding geographical area.Research, like veterinary school, can be all-consuming.You’ll be a better researcher and student if you create a well-balanced life.Take time to explore the area you are visiting,” offers Kelly.
Kelly is the daughter of Karla Kelly, Esq., of Escondido, Calif., and David Kelly, Esq., of Bakersfield, Calif.
The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is the only veterinary college in Oklahoma. One of 28 veterinary colleges in the United States, it is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is open to the public and provides routine and specialized care for small and large animals. It also offers 24-hour emergency care and is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association. For more information, visit www.cvhs.okstate.edu or call (405) 744-7000.