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Austin Fox, a fourth-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently returned from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he participated in the Medical Research Scholars Program. During this time, Fox participated in research in the Laboratory of Immunology of the National Eye Institute.
According to the NIH Clinical Center, the Medical Research Scholars Program is a comprehensive research enrichment program designed to attract the most creative, research-oriented medical, dental, and veterinary students to the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. As a participant in the Medical Research Scholars Program, Fox interacted with NIH leaders and reputable investigators from the top national academic medical centers and universities. In addition, Fox participated in the Training Program in Clinical Research, which is a collaborative training program between the NIH and Duke University School of Medicine. In this program, Fox received academic training in principles of clinical research, which leads to a Master of Health Sciences in Clinical Research.
Working in the Laboratory of Immunology, Fox was exposed to clinical as well as translational and basic research. Fox worked with a team on multiple research projects during his time at the NIH, which involved a variety of ocular diseases all related to the immunology of the eye. Fox commended the extraordinary research environment and his excellent mentors. “It has been a privilege to work with and learn from great mentors, Drs. H. Nida Sen and Robert Nussenblatt, in such a collaborative and challenging environment,” he said.
Fox said that his time at the NIH gave him a great appreciation for the volume and depth of research performed in medicine today. Learning about and being a part of the research process at the NIH broadened the foundation for furthering his medical studies. “Overall, my time at the NIH has been an eye-opening experience, which allowed me to gain a great appreciation for research and will be invaluable in my future training and practice of medicine.”
In addition, Fox encourages medical students to experience the research process. Fox stated, “As we learn more about the human body and disease, patient care will continue to evolve and improve, which will be made possible through research.”
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