The goal of the Minority Medical Student Award Program (MMSAP) is to increase the number of medical students in hematology from under-represented minority groups by introducing them to hematology in their early years of medical school. ASH News Daily is pleased to share a summary of the research conducted by current MMSAP participant Nneamaka Ugbode. Her research mentor was Dr. Eric Russell, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Nneamaka Ugbode, a second-year medical student at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, is a native of Delta State, Nigeria. In 2000, she moved to the United States to continue her education, and in 2007 she received a BS in Biochemistry from Temple University. Nneamaka is active in the Jeff HOPE student-run clinic and “Doctors in the House,” an unofficial student group that was created in the spring of 2009 to advocate for a day off on Martin Luther King Day to do community service.
Manipulating the stability of β-globin mRNA for the treatment of major hemoglobinopathies
Hypothesis: The stability of human β-goblin mRNA can be enhanced in vivo by duplication of a specific stem-loop structure within its 3’ untranslated region (3’UTR).
Objectives: 1) learn basic laboratory skills, 2) learn about sickle cell disease and thalassemia, and 3) test the stabilities of variant human β-globin mRNAs
The 10 weeks as a trainee in the Russell lab have been exciting and encouraging. I worked on a novel approach to increase the half-life of β-globin mRNA, and I had the opportunity to grow - not only did I gain useful techniques and scientifically useful information as an investigator, but I also evolved as a person. There were a number of frustrating times when experiments were painstakingly performed and the results were inconclusive, and I ended my experience with a lot of unanswered questions and the need for more conclusive results. However, these situations were as important as those instances of positive results because I gained a much greater understanding of the reality of a career in research. Although I didn’t have much research experience, my mentor and his lab always expressed confidence in my abilities and challenged me to think in the various brainstorming sessions and to identify and fix the causes for these failed experiments. My visit with Dr. Fitzhugh (career mentor) at the NIH confirmed that my interest in hematology is not limited to basic science research. I would like to continue working with Drs. Russell and Fitzhugh to determine how realistic these interests are and how best to approach steering my career in the appropriate direction and make the most of my MMSAP experience.
The MMSAP is sponsored in part by Amgen, Inc., and Genentech BioOncology.
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