Internship serves to educate students; reinforcing what they have learnt n class and train of novel theories and techniques. I believe I achieved exactly that during my internship. Molecular techniques are proving to be very useful in scientific research a molecular work forms the cornerstone of laboratory research. Profiling 1 mouse models are used in Ohio state university to study vascular diseases and complications since their physiology almost resembles that of humans, they are easy to breed and cheap to maintain as compared to other animals.
Results from transgenic experiments are confirmed through PCR techniques, RT-PCR, electrophoresis and western blotting. Here, they will confirm the activation of hypertrophy signaling in the cells of the blood vessels’ smooth muscles and the results compared to a control. Introduction I undertook my internship at the Ohio Sate University in Columbus, Ohio in the molecular biology section. It was a great learning experience and an eye opener for me since it made me confirm that I am pursuing the right career. Their mission is: ‘To improve people’s lives through innovation in research, education and patient care’.
Through their mission statement, they have managed to save lives and improve the quality of life through research while using the latest scientific techniques to deliver reliable results. In addition to the mission, the institute educates students by offering them an opportunity to utilize their laboratories and equipments as they are being supervised by qualified personnel. To achieve their mission and vision, they continually work hard to implement their core values which include working as a team, integrity, innovation, excellence and leadership.
End result; well trained physicians, researchers and clinicians (OSUM, 2010). Management, Training and Employee Information Learning about an institution one wants to get involved with before hand is key. I borrowed this statement before my internship and it played a major role in preparing me as I went there having an idea of what to expect. I also took it upon myself to contact one of the directors and he assisted me with notes and literature on ongoing projects and their expectations from interns.
The orientation process I underwent also went a long way in helping me fit in and find my way around the institution. I am very grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Hamdy, for his patience, encouragement and notes during orientation as within no time, having being granted access to the areas I would work, I had no issues finding my way around and tracing the necessary equipment. Their library and internet services assisted me too as they offered reliable and relevant information which assisted me with my research as I worked.
With this additional information, I was able to increase my learning and work under minimum supervision. Dr. Hamdy, my supervisor, took the extra step of teaching me all the details and techniques I would need without limitations. The short courses offered on first aid and laboratory safety assisted me especially when it came to handling harmful chemicals. In addition, I was also trained on the standard laboratory protocols together with disposal methods so I could know when and how to dispose off waste.
Dr. Hamdy was always present and willing to assist in case I needed ant assistance and in fact, he worked with me most times until I got accustomed to the institution and techniques. He even went the extra mile of asking for permission so I could also visit the other laboratories like the virology, hematology and even microbiology. In addition, he also signed me up for short course trainings on molecular biology techniques and bioinformatics, where I got the opportunity to meet and learn from experienced researchers in the molecular biology field.
The theory and techniques learnt in school also assisted me during the internship particularly during the practical sessions as they increased my understanding. However, it is not only what you learn through books that counts in such settings. The institute had a large number of researchers and had it not been for my excellent interpersonal skills, I believe my time there would have been difficult as it made it easier for me to ask for and verify information.
Other qualities that helped me succeed included the professionalism I deployed as I worked and my willingness to learn as I took everything I was taught seriously showing concern. In addition, my cleanliness and excellent attention to details made work easier in molecular work and particularly when handling DNA samples. For instance, we know that DNA samples are very sensitive and impurities interfere with the results hence paying attention and maintaining a clean micro-organism free environment played a major role in ensuring reliable results.
My fast learning ability also made earning easier as it made others be willing to teach me. Still, no on is perfect and hence I took the chance to add more useful qualities into my basket. For instance, I learnt to be patient and that no all results come out as anticipated. This in turn made it easier for me to repeat some of the experiments that yielded questionable results with an aim of attaining substantial results. I also learnt how to analyze data before experiments and the results after so as to avoid inconclusive outcomes.
Another quality I picked was time management and this came into play mainly during sample extraction, gel electrophoresis and protein expression as these needed timings and had to be watched closely. For example, while conducting gel electrophoresis, this comes in hand as we know that there is a tendency of the samples spilling over the gel if left to run for long hours leading to wastage of materials and time and one is forced to repeat the experiments. I owe my success during the internship to all the aforementioned qualities.
Specific Job Information Though I could not stay longer to witness the end of the research, I learnt a lot on molecular biology and the techniques involved. My day would starts with reporting to my station where I logged into the computer to check for instructions left either by my supervisor or the administration. Then I would take my lab coat and walk into the laboratory to check on the experimental animal models, feed them and check on my samples and previous experiments, recording the results.
The next step would be collecting the equipment I would use for the day’s experiments, sterilize them and prepare my samples together with the gel, buffers and chemicals. It was also my responsibility to find out the transgenic mice that picked the protein via laboratory techniques including blood extraction from the tail of the mice, DNA extraction from the blood samples, PCR, Protein expression, electrophoresis, gel examination, result analysis, recording the procedure and results and finally sending a copy to my supervisor for his perusal and corrections.
Knowledge of how to extract blood samples from the mice’s tails and mice breeding assisted me during the internship. Simple details like the fact that mice feed on pellets and lactating females eat four times as much food as males played a major role during mice feeding sessions hence I ensured I had adequate food for them and changed the water regularly to avoid contamination. Mice aside, I was well informed on how stress and hypertension increase can make the blood vessel walls to trigger the hypertrophic signaling pathway leading to remodeling of the vasculature.
Over expression of the Profilin 1 protein in the aorta causes the formation of stress fiber leading to hypertrophy in mice and eventually hypertension. More important was the knowledge I had on the principles behind molecular techniques like PCR which is DNA amplification, Western blotting to express proteins and gel electrophoresis to separate DNA and protein samples incase of a western blot. During internship, I realized I was somewhat limited to the techniques I was well versed with.
However, I believe if I had more knowledge on bioinformatics and novel technologies like gene chip analysis, protein micro array, mass spectrometry and even High Performance gel electrophoresis, I would have been better placed and maybe perform more experiments while getting distinct bands. During this period, I acquired new skills like RNA extraction from cardiovascular tissues and blood vessels. In addition, I now have an insight on how to carry out HP electrophoresis, gene transduction, transfection and even sequence analysis using some Bioinformatics tools. Conclusion
Internship was very educative and it fit into me career goals perfectly as I aim at becoming a scientist particularly in molecular biology so I can contribute to improving the quality of life and save lives; hence my career goals were not changed but were instead confirmed as correct. Internship made me realize the importance of commitment and perfection since a small mistake leads to wrong results. My recommendations are that supervisors ensure students are well exposed during internship, provide the necessary guidance and literature for better understanding and if possible, give exams at the end of sessions as a follow up.
My major assets in science are my curiosity, commitment and willingness to learn as these are the pillars of a successful researcher. However, I still need to nourish my field of study by making it my responsibility to learn more novel techniques and familiarize myself more with other areas of research as I realized that all areas of research like microbiology, bacteriology and virology are interconnected with molecular biology.
Courtney from Study Moose
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