HHMI fellowship gives students real-world research experience
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has committed $546,000 to support eight Medical Research Fellows at HMS. This prestigious program pairs medical students with faculty members and gives them the opportunity to delve deeply into scientific questions in the research lab.
"HHMI is one of the leading funders of research in the country, and one of their most meaningful contributions is the medical student research fellowship," says Gordon Strewler, MD, professor of medicine at HMS, master of the Cannon Society, and the Harvard representative for HHMI. "This program has supported the endeavors of a great many students at Harvard over the years."
The program allows each fellow to work on a year-long, intensive, full-time research project with a basic biomedical scientist of their choice. About a dozen third-year HMS students are selected yearly on the basis of their scientific proposals. In addition to the research opportunity, fellows attend symposia sponsored by HHMI, where they can present their original research and network with prominent scientists.
"Many fellowship programs give monetary support, but few provide these enrichment experiences," says David Blauvelt, MD ’15, a 2012–2013 HHMI Fellow. "I want to take advantage of everything thrown my way."
Blauvelt is using light to study the physiology of blood vessels with the goal of generating high-resolution, 3-dimensional images of vasculature. He hopes to color code individual vessels by their velocity, with the intent that this technology will be used to study vascular diseases and particularly tumor angiogenesis. As a Boston regional co-chair, he is also involved in recruiting prominent scientists to speak about their work at HHMI dinners.
"A year spent focused on research has been transformative for many fellows, and shaped their interest and determination to become physician-scientists," says Sean B. Carroll, HHMI's vice president for science education.
Blauvelt couldn't agree more. Although his goals as a fellow include presenting at major national and international conferences, meeting with investigators, and publishing his work, he says he just wants to enjoy being immersed in science for a year.
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