Throughout my 8 weeks of research, my lab focused on finding a way to restore motor function after a cervical spinal cord injury, the most common type of spinal cord injury. I focus mainly on behavior testing, where I’m analyzing four types of behavior tests. Cylinder test, grip strength, ratwalk, and ladder rung test are the four behavior tests I analyzed. Even though I was not able to work with live animals, I was able to also analyze the spinal cord and tissue. I was passionate about mounting tissue on a slide. It requires attentiveness because I needed to remove a gel protecting the tissue without tearing the tissue with a thin paintbrush. My mentor was amazed I performed well taking in consideration that I have never mounted before. I find regenerative medicine for spinal cord injury essential since a single breakthrough could lead to restoring function within a singular cervical segment and that could translate to recovering motor function. In other words, recovery of motor neurons means the patient could possibly be able to move some of his/her limbs again. I will always remember from the nobel prize winners talk that a scientist should not go chasing a nobel prize but instead work hard and do it with passion. The reward should be icing on a cake and will come later on. To me, my reward is being able to help people. Being able to speak to a few patients that had been involved in some type of regenerative medicine, gave me even more encouragement to pursue regenerative medicine to make positive changes in people's lives that are in need of solutions but their only hope is at the research laboratory. It also gave me a valuable perspective of what some of the patients had been through and how appreciative they are. SIMR not only gave me the opportunity to obtain so much knowledge but also to work with intelligent people that are equally interested in the field as me. SIMR made it possible for me to explore the stem cells field in more details. It gave the chance to understand and feel how it is for an everyday scientist working in the lab.
One of the reasons that I enjoyed SIMR is because of my direct mentor. My mentor made me feel like she cares about me and absolutely didn’t have a problem explaining anything in different ways until I understood it. My mentor was understandable and passionate about what she do. To provide even more support, my TAs were always there. Having SIMR giving us T/As, made it not only more fun and enjoyable but also gave us someone to go to for help. The most challenging obstacle I faced was learning more about the devastating fact of how animals have to be sacrificed for science advancement. Even though it’s done in the most humane way and are given good care, it’s heart breaking realizing how many animals go. However, I overcame this obstacle by seeing the possible outcome of developing therapies to help patients. I believe the research career is for me because I enjoy being able to help people in need. Even though people don't normally think of scientist in labs, they are the ones finding solutions that a patient or doctor might have. In the future, if I hopefully get to establish my stem cell research in california, the CIRM SPARK Award Internship would've helped encourage me to continue to pursue my career of stem cells. CIRM SPARK Award Internship has given me the opportunity to have special experiences and meet different people.