Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Abi Chandru

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2021

Research Project: Effects of Aging and Trauma on Spinal Cord Microvasculature and Inflammation

Project Description: The aged spinal cord is vulnerable to injuries and in recent years, spinal cord injuries (SCI) from ground falls are among the most common trauma suffered by older patients. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about how spinal cord microvasculature, hemodynamics, and inflammation changes with age. The present study aims to address this knowledge gap. As microvascular density differences have been detected between males and female rodent and human models, microvascular changes during normal aging will be examined in both sexes. Results from this study will be foundational to understanding sex and age-related alterations in both the static and dynamic microvascular function of the spinal cord.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

I have learned many things from working in the Hofstetter-Khaing Lab. All of these things are of utmost importance to my growth as a student and prospective physician. I have learned a great deal about what it takes to work in a research environment. From communicating the ideas for a study to actually performing each and every experiment, not to the mention the laborious data collection process afterward. Each and every step of this study has taught me valuable lessons that I will carry on throughout the rest of my life. Aside from learning laboratory techniques such as staining, microscopy, animal care, and data analysis, I have also developed my skills presenting research data and articles, organizing my work, managing my time amidst school, stepping out of my comfort zone and taking on more responsibility, and educating/mentoring newer student entering our lab.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

I would highly recommend choosing a study that speaks to you most. It should be something you’re interested in and something that you really will put your utmost effort into. Be excited about your project, put in the work and effort and you will automatically see results follow.