NIA/NIDA Poster Day Celebrates Decade of Student Learning
By Doug Dollemore
Photos by Doug Hansen
A few months ago, 18-year-old Bill Rogers knew little about aging. But after participating in the National Institute on Aging Summer Intramural Research Program, he has developed a clearer understanding of the aging process and its biological underpinnings.
"Working on projects involving osteoarthritis reminded me of how insidious many age-related diseases are," Rogers says. "Every step I take increases the size of miniscule tears that will eventually open into gaping weaknesses in my cartilage that could plague me 40 or 50 years from now. So just because there is no pain doesn't mean the steady process of aging isn't occurring."
Rogers, who will be a sophomore at Duke University this fall, is one of 42 students who participated in the NIA summer program and was among those who presented research findings at the 10th annual NIA and NIDA IRP Poster Day on Aug. 1 in the lobby of the Gerontology Research Center in Baltimore. Dr. Michael Gottesman, NIH deputy director for intramural research, was among the attendees.
Since its inception in 1993, more than 400 students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds have presented results of their summer research projects on NIA and NIDA IRP Poster Day. This year's class, ranging from high school to medical students, presented findings from a cornucopia of research areas including bioinformatics, cellular apoptosis and neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
"One fundamental goal of this program is to stimulate, encourage and nurture a quest for knowledge in basic biomedical research among budding scientists," says Dr. Yolanda Mock, NIA biomedical recruitment coordinator. This year's participants say the program did that, and much more.
"My summer experience has far surpassed my goals," says Sundeep Viswanathan, a senior biochemistry honors student at the University of Texas, Austin. "Not only have I honed my scientific reasoning and learned valuable research techniques, but I have had the chance to speak with experts in many fields, which has opened my eyes to the endless possibilities available in research."
Students interested in participating in the 2003 NIA or NIDA Summer Intramural Research Programs can learn more at http://www.grc.nia.nih.gov/students/summeropps.htm. They also can email Mock, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Stephen J. Heishman, NIDA summer program coordinator, email@example.com.
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