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Future Researchers On Campus

January 12, 2016

Collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital Brings Future Health Care Researchers to Campus

They arrived on the MGH Institute campus in early summer as interns, three rising college sophomores who have participated in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Student Success Jobs Program. Ten weeks later, Bryan Saint-Louis, Karan Patel, and Ewelina Stanek left with a much better sense of the health care research world.

The program, which is run through BWH’s Center for Community Health and Health Equity department, exposes 95 Boston high school students to medical, health, and science professions, and then matches them with health care professional mentors. Students who graduate from the program are then eligible to return during the summer following their freshman year in college to be placed in departments that reflect their area of study. 

Lynch, St. Louis, and Wong

“After working here, now I know I can tackle the types of problems that I’ll need to do in medical school,” said Saint-Louis (center), a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student who worked in the Fatigue Research Lab with Assistant Professor John Wong (right), Senior Research Associate Kaari Lynch (left), and technician Lisa Tran. “I got a chance to really understand how good research is done, and these are skills I will be able to use in any lab.”

“It was apparent when I first met Bryan that he was very eager to learn about research and to interact with researchers,” said Wong. “It was gratifying to see how much he learned and how helpful he was in the laboratory.”

”The Student Success Jobs Program is dedicated to diversifying the future health care workforce by providing opportunities and support to young people who are underrepresented in health care careers,” said Lisa Taylor-Montminy, the program’s youth development manager. “We are thankful for the rich internship opportunities that were provided to these students by the MGH Institute.” 

Stanek with Richburg

Brian Richburg (right), clinical research coordinator of the Speech and Feeding Disorders Lab, said Stanek (left) was exposed to a wide variety of tasks, including literature searches, equipment setup and calibration, data collection, and statistical analysis.

“I was really impressed with how much prior knowledge she came into the internship with, and how quickly she picked things up,” Richburg said. “She was able to do data analyses that we’d typically have our graduate students doing.”

Stanek, who attends Assumption College, said she learned a great deal about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is a major research focus of the lab. “It’s so important to study how a patient’s speech and motor functions deteriorate over time,” she said. “If we can help them speak even for a few extra months, it gives them the opportunity to have a better quality of life.”

 Patel and Christodoulou

Assistant Professor Joanna Christodoulou (right), who runs the Brain, Education, and Mind (BEAM) Team and with whom Patel (left) worked, echoed her colleagues’ overall satisfaction in her assessment of the University of Connecticut student who, like Saint-Louis and Stanek, attended high school at Boston Latin Academy. “His contributions helped to advance our research in understanding how children develop their reading skills and what factors can influence their performance,” Christodoulou said.

This story originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of MGH Institute of Health Professions Magazine.