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William Parker, a second-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently returned from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., where he participated in a program called the Student Research Training Program (SRTP). During this time, Parker participated in a program focused on diabetes research, which was funded by a T32 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The SRTP is a summer program that allows students scientific resources so that they may conduct research in the fields of diabetes and obesity, kidney disease and digestive diseases. Thirty-two students are chosen to participate in the program every summer, where they conduct research in their field of interest, attend lectures from physicians at Vanderbilt and at the end of the program present their work in a national research symposium.
Parker returned this summer to the James May Lab, where he had previously done research as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University studying molecular and cellular biology. His project focused on characterizing the molecular mechanism underlying vitamin C's protection of the vascular endothelium in diabetes. On Sept. 7, 2016, his manuscript detailing this research was published in the American Journal of Physiology Cell Physiology. “While a current randomized controlled trial exists to investigate treatment of the vascular complications of diabetes with vitamin C, it was not previously understood how the vitamin works this way on a cellular level. My objective was to fill in this gap in our understanding,” Parker said.
Parker said this year’s program served as a confirmation that he has chosen the right path in academic medicine. “I have considered a career in academic medicine since I was first exposed to research five years ago,” Parker said. “Hearing the stories of physicians, most of whom entered the world of research in completely different ways, has turned this nebulous career possibility into a tangible option.”
Parker credits his continued success as a medical researcher on the education he has received from the USA College of Medicine. He is optimistic about his future. “With only a year of medicine under my belt, I immediately found scientific writing to be a much easier and faster process than it has been in the past,” Parker said. “This leaves me assured, moving forward, that a career in both research and medicine is right for me.”
To view Parker’s manuscript, click here.
For more information about the Student Research Training Program in Diabetes and Obesity, Kidney Disease and Digestive Disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, click here.
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