Human Health and Disease BSc students at Trinity College Dublin undertake Medical Supply Company-sponsored summer research placements
Junior Sophister HHD students, Eva Kelly and Lucy Fitzgerald were selected to undertake summer placements in the laboratories of Prof. Mani Ramaswami and Prof. Ed Lavelle. The awards were generously sponsored by Medical Supply Company.
Eva Kelly: “This summer I spent four weeks assisting in Professor Ramaswami’s lab in TCIN. I was lucky enough to be offered this internship through my course (Human Health and Disease) which currently facilitates two lab placements for JS students. During my time in the lab I helped carry out important research which focused on a new plasmid-killer red. The aim was to see how much light was needed in order to cause damage to the cells without killing them. It is hoped that this research will ultimately enable this killer red to be used to mimic the damage caused
in diseases such as ALS. During the internship I learned valuable skills and gained vital first hand experience of the inner workings of a research lab. My first week was mostly spent observing, learning and practicing new techniques. As the weeks passed I began to master these and became confident and sufficiently competent to carry out the experiments by myself. HHD offers lots of exposure to current research. However the placement put theory into practice and showed research as it happens. It demonstrated clearly the skill set that is required for research beyond academic knowledge. I discovered that critical thinking and problem solving is needed on a daily basis-as things often don’t go according to plan! New ideas are always vital and thinking outside the box is critical when interpreting data and forming conclusions. The placement was extremely valuable due principally to the effort the researchers went to ensure that I gained maximum insight into their research. Their enthusiasm for their work was infectious, and I very indebted to them, and to Prof Ramaswami, for providing me with this valuable experience.”
Lucy Fitzgerald: “I was extremely fortunate to be the student chosen to gain experience in the lab of Professor Ed Lavelle. Spending one month in a research lab was more beneficial than I could have imagined; towards my degree in Human Health and Disease as it gave me an insight into what my fourth year lab based project might be like, and towards building my confidence in the workplace and expanding my scientific knowledge. As well as this, it gave me an insight into the career of a research scientist, a career that any HHD student may choose, and one that I am keen to pursue having completed my placement. During my time in the lab I gained knowledge of many important techniques used in many areas of biology, including tissue culture, cell plating and cell counts, ELISA, real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), while also attending very valuable flow cytometry classes. Along with these useful techniques, I had the opportunity to use more specific techniques to the research in Prof Lavelle’s lab, including obtaining a single-cell suspension from a mouse spleen, as well as murine bone-marrow dendritic cell isolation. These skills were essential for the topic which myself, along with the help of my supervisors were keen to investigate; the role of the adjuvant chitosan, an activator of the inflammasome, which plays a role in the cGAS-STING pathway to induce type 1 IFN production. The research I partook in was focused on the mechanism by which chitosan induces mitochondrial stress, increasing levels of ROS. The overall experience was extremely positive, highlighting to me the support systems in place within a lab environment, with PhD students and post doctorates sharing ideas. This opportunity also emphasised the importance within the science world to keep up to date with the research in other labs and their progress, by attending conferences and reading journals. I would highly recommend applying for summer lab placement to any student who wants to experience hands on the work of a research scientist. Whether you want to test out if you are suited to the work, or simply want to gain beneficial experience in the area before leaving college, I would encourage you to put yourself out there and witness the overwhelmingly positive experience to be gained from a summer lab internship.”