NIEHS Medical Student Research Fellowships
Medical School: Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University
Mentor: Janet Hall, M.D., M.S.
Current Position: OB/GYN residency, University of Pensylvania
Project: The Effects of the Menstrual Cycle and Short-Term Caloric Restriction on Actigraphy-Defined Sleep in Young Women.
Kim A, Purse B, Hirsch K, Rice A, McGrath J, Smith-Ryan A, Hall J. 2019. Caloric Restriction Exacerbates the Effect of the Menstrual Cycle on Sleep. Poster presented at: Association of American Physicians/American Society for Clinical Investigation/American Physician-Scientists Association Joint Meeting. Chicago, IL.
Leka H, Kim A, Purse B, Hirsch K, Rice A, Smith-Ryan A, Hall J. 2019. The Effect of Energy Deprivation on the Responses of Metabolic and Stress Hormones to Meals. Poster presented at: Association of American Physicians/American Society for Clinical Investigation/American Physician-Scientists Association Joint Meeting. Chicago, IL.
Kim A, Purse B, Hirsch K, Rice A, McGrath J, Smith-Ryan A, Hall J. 2019. The Effects of the Menstrual Cycle and Caloric Restriction on Sleep in Young Women [ENDO abstract SAT-207]. Journal of the Endocrine Society. (suppl 1).
Spending a year at the NIEHS with the CRU (Clinical Research Unit) community was an invaluable experience, and I feel extremely grateful for the phenomenal experience that has greatly enhanced my medical education. I have learned many lifelong lessons, and have made lifelong friends! This experience was unique in that I was truly involved in every aspect of research: designing our question, conducting participant visits, troubleshooting study execution, handling and organizing samples, managing the data, performing statistical analyses, presenting our findings, and writing scientific manuscripts. It is unlikely that I will have the opportunity to be so intimately involved in a research project as a trainee, where the only expectation is to learn and absorb (without the other stressors such as applying for grants and writing IRB protocols). I was able to observe different approaches to research and scientific investigation, ask questions on how and why the study design was developed the way that it was, and gain a deeper understanding of what is involved in a great scientific study. Furthermore, this experience has taught me invaluable lessons in effective leadership, teamwork, and communication. By attending our weekly CAREFREE meetings as well as the operational meetings of the CRU, I learned how to work and communicate as a team member within our interdisciplinary team of study nurses, study coordinators, laboratory staff, recruitment staff, administrative staff, and principal investigators. I learned how to identify problems and work together as a team to brainstorm and execute solutions. These values are especially important in medicine, where effective communication and teamwork is critical for providing excellent patient care.
The resources for professional development were endless with the NIEHS research fellowship. Not only was I welcome to attend the educational workshops (e.g. statistical courses) and research seminars at the NIEHS, I was also able to access the wealth of resources offered by the NIH and the Bethesda campus. One of my favorite aspects of the program was the seamless integration with the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program, which is a larger research cohort at the main campus of the NIH. On two different occasions, I was funded to travel to Bethesda where I presented at their bi-monthly journal club and participated in their End-of-the-Year Scientific Symposium. Despite the physical separation of our campuses, Dr. Hall, Dr. Leitman, Dr. Burklow, Kenny Williams, and Tonya Shackelford made it possible for me to be a part of the MRSP community. Attending and presenting at national meetings were also a special highlight during the year. One of my favorite memories was attending the Women In Medicine Annual Dinner, where I met many of Dr. Hall’s colleagues and mentees. This event was incredibly empowering and inspirational to see so many successful female physician scientists, and made me all the more excited to continue along in my career!
Lastly, I will forever cherish the mentorship that I developed with my PI, Dr. Janet Hall. She has served as an all-encompassing mentor – a research mentor, a medical mentor, and an overall life mentor. From brainstorming sessions during our weekly meetings to exploring new restaurants around the conference venues, Dr. Hall is committed to her trainees and to nurturing future clinician scientists. The NIEHS has a special talent in creating lifelong relationships, and I believe it speaks to the culture of collaboration, professionalism, and curiosity that permeates throughout the whole institution.”