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Viewpoint: Pimkwan Jaru-ampornpan, medical student
As a first-year medical student, Pimkwan Jaru-ampornpan knew she was interested in ophthalmology and molecular biology. For her Emphasis project Jaru-ampornpan decided to find a project where she could pursue both interests.
Ms. Jaru-ampornpan believes the future of ophthalmology is closely tied to research. “There are so many exciting discoveries being made,” she explains. “And I want to be in the middle of it.”
On the Vanderbilt Eye Institute’s Web site, she found Dr. Rachel Kuchtey. Dr. Kutchey is researching the genetics of open angle glaucoma in a particular experimental model, since the disease presents the same way it does in humans (see Vision article, Spring 2010).
The project intrigued Jaru-ampornpan, so she approached Dr. Kuchtey about working in her lab.
“Dr. Kuchtey had never mentored a medical student in her lab before,” Ms. Jaru-ampornpan remembers. “But we discussed my interests and she agreed it was a good fit.”
Jaru-ampornpan and her lab mates analyzed genetic sequences in eye tissue and used a hypoxia chamber to screen elevated levels of Interleuken-8. As a result of her Emphasis project, she presented a paper at ARVO and was awarded an AMSA Best Lab Research award.
“The Emphasis Program is a unique experience,” says Ms. Jaru-ampornpan. “It allows medical students the dedicated time to get involved in labbased projects and is very helpful in developing your lab, research and analytical skills.”
“I think the work I’ve done in Dr. Kuchtey’s lab will help me in applying for residency. It shows that I’m committed to discovery.”