SEU Biology Students Intern at Mayo Clinic
As a biology student at Southeastern, you have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the professional medical field before you even graduate. SEU students Noah Richmond and David Orlando are getting practical experience working on the cutting edge of medical research and gaining close mentoring relationships with practicing physicians. They have been conducting research this summer at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, through a 10-week Clinical Research Internship Summer Program (CRISP). The program is highly selective and accepts only 50 students per year.
The Mayo Clinic is recognized nationally as one of the top hospitals in the U.S. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report ranked Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, Minnesota, as the best hospital in the nation. They have received numerous awards and designations for their advances in research and superior patient care.
“This is a world-renowned medical center that has cared for people like Muhammad Ali and Billy Graham. It largely focuses on research and pushing the science of medicine forward,” said Richmond. “It was an easy choice when I was offered the opportunity to do research there. Interning at the Mayo Clinic will give you an experience you can’t get anywhere else.”
A Visit from an SEU Mentor
Megan Wagner, physician assistant and assistant professor of biology at SEU, took a trip to the Mayo Clinic’s research center in Jacksonville to visit the students this summer.
“My goal is for our students to take what they are learning at Southeastern and apply that knowledge to real-world experience, and that’s what they are doing at the Mayo Clinic,” said Wagner.
Orlando and Richmond are both biology/pre-medicine majors who plan on attending medical school. Their internships at the Mayo Clinic allow them to work under practicing physicians who have current experience in research and medicine.
“My role as a research participant is to investigate alongside the doctor and analyze significances in our data. Our studies will help other doctors in their treatment of patients, especially with a topic that is relatively undiscovered,” said Orlando.
Orlando’s research involves studying cardiothoracic patients who have had lung transplants. He is examining data on how the tricuspid valve is affected by the transplant. He works under an actively practicing cardiothoracic surgeon who is the principal investigator. The surgeon came up with the idea for the project and is seeing trends in the patients he treats daily. Orlando is helping him conduct research to validate clinical correlations in patient data.
The principal investigator teaches Orlando about the science behind the research, explains anatomical procedure, demonstrates how to conduct clinical research and invites him to the operating room (OR) allowing him to see firsthand full circle the physiology represented in the patient charts.
“It has been great to learn how to do research like a physician and learn the processes that they go through. The doctors have been really supportive. This internship has helped me make connections with people who could one day become colleagues, and given me an idea of how to conduct research at the #1 ranked hospital in the nation,” said Orlando.
Richmond is analyzing lumbar abnormalities in patients. “I work with the department of radiology to go through thousands of patients’ MRI scans to look for herniated discs and other issues that can cause back pain in patients. I then collect that data and we start to look at the correlation between the MRIs and the symptoms that patients experienced. This helps doctors more accurately diagnose and treat patients for specific problems, not just pain,” said Richmond.
His mentor taught him exactly what to look for on MRI scans and assists him if he is struggling to distinguish data. “Although my doctor cares for patients every day, he is still very attentive in coming and checking to make sure everything is running smoothly,” said Richmond.
Richmond plans to attend medical school in 2021 and eventually become an orthopedic surgeon. “This opportunity at Mayo Clinic gives me awesome experience moving forward as I pursue that dream,” said Richmond.
Orlando is interested in a career in sports medicine. “I feel called to patient care, but I am still open to surgery or any other career path,” said Orlando.
Sciences at SEU
The College of Natural & Health Sciences at SEU has added degrees in Biochemistry or Biochemistry with a concentration in Research, and the biology/pre-medicine degree now offers four specific concentrations of study: Medical Sciences, Dentistry, Pharmacology, and Veterinary. Students have the ability to learn in depth using the cutting-edge Anatomage table at SEU, and eligible students can even apply for early acceptance to medical school through SEU’s partnership with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Article by SEU student Grace Jicha