Name: Wei Gao
Internship, Co-op or Research Site: University of Maryland, Baltimore - School of Medicine
Major(s)/Minor(s): Biological Sciences
Expected Graduation Year: 2014
Briefly describe your internship, co-op, research, or service- learning opportunity, including your day-to-day tasks, responsibilities, and assignments.
Currently, my project seeks to determine the effect of Msi-1 on hPC1 expression in HEK cells. PC1 is an enzyme that has been shown to have proinsulin and proglucagon cleavage activity. Therefore, Msi-1 may play a key role in future research on regulating glucose levels for diabetic patients.
My work involves transfecting HEK cells with Msi-1 and comparing the levels of secreted protein and retained mRNA levels using enzymatic assays and western blots.
What have you enjoyed the most about your position or organization/company?
I love working and interacting with people who are so passionate not only about conducting their own research, but about helping me learn more about research as well. Everyone is always so eager and willing to give up their time to explain a foreign molecular concept to me or to help guide me through a new experimental protocol. Their extensive knowledge and unwavering patience day in and day out has helped me become a better biologist and a better scientist.
What advice would you give to another student who is seeking an internship or similar experience?
Do it! Contact the principal investigators directly and show them that you’re interested in their research by reading a few of their papers. During the interview, bring up any questions that you have about the methods they used or the results they found.
How do you see your experience as meaningful? This might involve skills you’ve gained, information you’ve learned, mentors you’ve connected with, or projects you’ve completed.
Being relatively new to the research field, I find that every day in the lab is filled with learning experiences. Without a doubt, this experience has been meaningful to me because I have learned so much about science and scientific methods. However, more than that, I hope this research experience can be meaningful to others as well. Perhaps my results will one day be useful for designing a better treatment for diabetes.
Please provide a short quote about what you liked most about your position / earning internship credit / the internship placement process / the Shriver Center:
I love the idea that I am exploring uncharted territory with my work. Since Msi-1 has not been very well-researched, often times there are questions no one (not even Google!) knows the answer to. My job is to ask those questions and find those answers.