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Summer Research Fellowship Program Fellow
Dana Jackson
Patricia Ryan
Dana Jackson Photo Dana Jackson

Summer Research Fellowship Program Fellow
Clinical Center
Bachelor's Degree-George Washington University
3rd year medical student at Georgetown School of Medicine
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

I completed my undergraduate education at George Washington University in Washington, DC earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. In 2001, I enrolled in medical school at Georgetown University.

I was excited to study at NIH in the summer of 2002. That time only confirmed my commitment to be a member of the medical community. My road to medical school included working in health insurance for a national managed care organization. While serving as Acting Vice President of Operations at a health maintenance organization I gained direct knowledge of the processes involved for patients, providers, and facilities to access health care.

I learned about the research possibilities at NIH from a representative of the Office of Education who came to Georgetown. I was selected to work in the Radiology Department. Under the hands-on tutelage of my mentor, John Butman, M.D., Ph.D., I was able to do research on a fascinating and little-understood aspect of hearing loss. My role was to study several test cases to identify any relationship between fibrous dysplasia and hearing loss. After researching and studying the data, I presented my findings during poster day and hope to publish a paper with the results.

As for my mentor, what impressed me about Dr. Butman was his intelligence, keen insights, clinical instincts, and most important to me, as his mentee, was his availability for me any time I needed him. I felt I was in an environment where learning was important and supported. No questions were out of bounds, and this experience is something that I can carry with me throughout the rest of my medical career. My summer at NIH was an amazing and beneficial experience.

As I head back to Georgetown to begin my second year, I realize that my time at NIH confirmed my enthusiasm for the field of radiology. Having access to the cutting-edge technology at NIH demonstrated how radiology can help with treatment decisions as well as providing accurate diagnoses for patients, thereby saving more lives.

NIH's environment and Dr. Butman's mentorship provided me with an experience to remember, treasure, and carry with me.

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Patricia Ryan Photo Patricia Ryan

Summer Research Fellowship Program Fellow
Clinical Center
Bachelor's Degree-University of Cincinnati
3rd year medical student at University of Cincinnati School of Medicine
Cincinnati, Ohio

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and have been there pretty much ever since, with the exception of my last summer, which I spent at the NIH. After high school I attended the College of Engineering at the University of Cincinnati and received a degree in Engineering Mechanics. I always have had an interest in mechanics and in medicine.

The summer after completing my undergraduate degree I had a job doing research at the Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio in pediatric orthopedics. The subject of the research was new treatments for idiopathic scoliosis, specifically to quantify the effects of forces on the growing spine. The project was my first real exposure to medicine, and it allowed me to use some of the skills I learned during my undergraduate training. The work I did was exciting, thought-provoking and important in that after that summer I had more direction. The following fall I began medical school at the University of Cincinnati where I am currently enrolled in my second year.

During my first year of medical school I was looking on the internet for different research opportunities for the summer when I found the NIH. I was immediately excited about applying because of the opportunity to do meaningful research with some of the best, learn about different research fields, and spend a summer in the D.C. area. I was fortunate to be contacted by Dr. Scott Paul from the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in the Clinical Center. He had done previous clinical research on a population of children with osteogenesis imperfecta (a genetic collagen abnormality), and when I arrived at the NIH I began to work with him on a correlation study to see if there was a relationship between leg-length discrepancy (one leg longer than the other) and spinal curvature (scoliosis) in these children.

A typical day at the NIH involved compiling data already gathered from the biomechanics lab and clinical measurements, as well as generating some new data by measuring Cobb angles on spine films. Not only did I have to accumulate data, I also explored its meaning and usability with the help of many knowledgeable people in the department, and ultimately, I worked with a statistician to come up with meaningful results. I was able to meet many of the patients involved in the study and interact with them and their families. In addition to my work on the project I also was able to go with Dr. Paul to see patients (not all of whom were in the study), and this definitely gave me more exposure to the clinical side of medicine.

I had a good relationship with my preceptor. He allowed me to work independently but always made himself available for questions and guidance. My best advice as far as the mentor-mentee relationship goes is to be a good listener, because you will learn a lot. But don't be afraid to say what you are thinking (everyone has a different way of looking at things that can help the project). My preceptor wasn't the only one I got to know while at the NIH, and that is one of the major advantages of the program. I met many intelligent and nice people from all over whom I would not have met otherwise. Living near D.C. was a lot of fun, there is a lot to do and the Metro makes it easy to get around. I stayed with a friend, which was nice for my first time away from home, but there are many different ways to work out housing.

Overall, my summer at the NIH was one of the best experiences of my life. I left inspired and proud of the work that I did. I intend to continue to pursue a career in which I will have involvement both in clinical medicine and in research. After working at the NIH, I cannot ever imagine seeing patients and not always wondering about the etiology of their symptoms as well as what ways treatment can be improved to enhance their quality of life. Research is an integral part of medicine, and the NIH is a great place to explore both.

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