What was your favorite part of the experience? My favorite part of the experience was working directly with the patients at the Center for Rare Childhood Disorders. This was extremely rewarding because I was able to see how the science in the labs affects the lives of these young children and their families.
If you worked on a big project, please describe it below: My big project was to conduct a study on the economic impact of Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) on patients with rare neurological disorders. To do this, my co-intern and I developed a 40 question human subjects survey for our patient’s families.We are still collecting results today. Our goal is to prove that WES sequencing is cost-effective for these patients if used early in the diagnostic journey, as opposed as a last result.
What did you find most challenging about your internship? The most challenging part of my internship was learning about the science behind genetic sequencing. I was at a disadvantage compared to other interns because I had never taken a college biology or genetics course. I needed to do a lot of studying outside of work and actually read through my little sister’s high school biology textbook in order to catch up. In the end, I was able to hold my own among all of the experienced scientists.
What advice do you have for other students looking for a similar internship? Don’t let the job description scare you away from applying for your dream job. The application to the Helios Scholar program states that the internship is in “biomedical research” and “interns work on a research project under the mentorship of a TGen scientist to unravel the genetic components of diabetes, neurological disease, and cancer”. Clearly, as a Business Economics major, this description didn’t fit my experience or field of study. However, I knew I wanted to work in healthcare and that TGen is doing revolutionary work in the field of genetics, so I applied anyway. Turns out, we were able to find a project that I could tackle and now they want to hire more Business students in the future. If you know what you want, go after it!