WMU News

WMU students conduct research in Washington, D.C.

Aug. 21, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Three Western Michigan University biomedical science majors are the school's first students to complete special federally-funded research internships in the nation's capital.

Justin Curran, Crystal Diabo and Chuandi Wang recently finished internships through the National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Volunteer Program. WMU is one of only 20 U.S. colleges and universities invited to take part in the program, which takes students to Washington, D.C., to participate in biomedical, dietary and on-going laboratory research.

The NIH is an agency of the Public Health Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH conducts medical and behavioral research in its 27 separate institutes, centers and laboratories, and supports research in universities, medical schools, hospitals and research institutions throughout the country and abroad.

The WMU students chosen for participation in the internship program are undergraduates, selected for their academic commitment, motivation and medical eligibility. Acceptance criteria for selection also required students to have a science or health-related major, a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average and a willingness to live in a patient care unit for the duration of the internship, which is 10 to 12 weeks.

Justin Curran, a biomedical sciences major from Waterford, Mich., worked in the NIH's pediatrics and developmental neuropsychiatry branch from April 3 to June 12 of this year, assisting a mood disorders team with data compilation and analysis, library research and patient interaction. His work focused on longitudinal studies of children with bipolar disorders and treatment studies involving children with severe mood disorders. Curran, who graduates from WMU this month, is applying to medical school and attributes much of what he's learned about medical research to his internship opportunity with NIH.

"It was an amazing experience. I learned so much and met a group of great people," he says. "Living in Washington, D.C., was also amazing. It's a very dynamic and vibrant city with a lot of diversity." Curran is the son of Joseph Curran of Waterford, Mich., and Kathy Williams of Tecumseh, Mich.

Crystal Diabo of Kalamazoo was the first student from WMU to complete the NIH internship program. The biomedical sciences major spent the fall of 2000 involved in a research project with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, meeting and working with nationally recognized scientists. She returned to Washington, D.C., this past spring to take part in the public presentation of her research.

Chuandi Wang of Kalamazoo is a senior majoring in biomedical sciences. During her time in the program, from March 20 to May 24 of this year, she was involved in two different research protocols as a part of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Wang's first assignment was to run laboratory tests on a drug commonly used in treating arthritis to assess its effectiveness in reducing pain and inflammation. Her second project was to assist with clinical research protocol on surveys of pain, performing thermal testing and behavioral assessments. Wang, who will be applying to dental school in the fall and hopes to go into pediatric dentistry, says her learning experiences through NIH were invaluable.

"It is a great chance to get involved in research and to get to know the doctors who specialize in the fields that interest you," says Wang, who is the daughter of Xiaojun and Jian Sun Wang, both of Kalamazoo.

While these student interns are biomedical science majors, Carolyn Hornev, coordinator of the NIH internship program through WMU's Career and Student Employment Services, says the NIH opportunities are available to students interested in all aspects of the health field.

"I'm thrilled for any student who can take advantage of this tremendous opportunity," she says.

These internships take place each semester and are coordinated on campus, through WMU's Career and Student Employment Services. For more information, contact Carolyn Hornev at (269) 387-2752 or <carolyn.hornev@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, 269 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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