My Intern Story: John Hopkins School of Medicine

August 28, 2017 - Scholars

The following post was written by Ashley Kyalwazi, JRF Scholar Class of 2018. 

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Summer Internship Program. The purpose of this program is to provide a comprehensive laboratory research experience for undergraduate students of diverse backgrounds over the course of ten weeks.

I had never been to Baltimore, so I looked forward to exploring the city and learning more about its history.  Moreover, the prospect of conducting research at a medical institution such as Johns Hopkins made me optimistic about all that I could learn and accomplish.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to conduct neuroscience research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, New York in the lab of Dr. Stephen Shea. Using a mouse model, I studied the neural circuitry underlying social communication and how disruptions to certain circuits might lead to dysfunction- such as in Autism Spectrum Disorder. In my time at CSHL, I developed many new skills such as surgical injections, implantation of cranial windows, and neuroimaging techniques.

This summer, I had the opportunity to work in the lab of Dr. Solange Brown in the Solomon H. Synder Department of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. My project was focused on understanding more about how humans interpret stimuli from their environment via sensory and perceptual processes and how dysfunction of these circuits has the potential to lead to neurodegenerative disease. I also studied the innervation patterns of corticothalamic neurons and use these patterns, along with information about their morphology, to gain insight into the role they play in sensory processing.

In addition to having an immersive research experience this summer, I had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Alan Cohen- the Director of the Johns Hopkins Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery. This was an incredible experience, as I was able to discuss a variety of clinical cases with the neurosurgery team, as well as observe the delivery of patient care in both the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Clinic and in the Operating Room.

My internship has been an incredible!  I leave Baltimore more confident than ever about my dream to become a physician. I thank my parents, mentors, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Their support and encouragement continues to light the path I will continue following in order to achieve my goals.

Ashley is a senior biological science major at the University of Notre Dame. Her sponsor is United Health Foundation. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn.