Summer studentship: Ravinder Kaur
In 2019, the BALR offered their first summer studentships. These offered undergraduate students the opportunity to carry out 8 week of research in a host lab, with student stipend, consumables, and funds for the student to present a poster at the BALR Summer meeting - these proved very popular!
Ravinder Kaur was awarded his studentship to work with Prof. Gisli Jenkins at the University of Nottingham titled 'Understanding the pathological role of genetic abnormalities observed in Familial Pulmonary Fibrosis'.
I am really delighted to be awarded one of the first BALR Summer Studentships in conducting a research placement in summer 2019. The award consisted of fully funded 8 week placement in Nottingham, followed by attending the BALR conference for 3 days in September.
Being a first-year medical student at the time, I was excited, and anxious at the same time, to undertake such a big challenge. Research has always intrigued me and getting first-hand experience was really exciting, when not many organisations were keen to offer similar opportunities. During the placement, I investigated the hypothesis of DOCK3 being a potential novel contributor gene in the development of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.
Initially, I spent my time furthering my knowledge of the medical condition and gaining experience in the lab, by shadowing Senior researchers and PhD students; this gave me a chance to clarify my queries about the research field and get an insight into how rewarding of a career it can be! Consequently, the following weeks were spent carrying immunohistochemical and histological analysis on lung specimens. Finally, I carried statistical analysis and evaluated the findings explaining the reason and potential mechanism of DOCK3 genetic abnormality leading to lung fibrosis. Being responsible for the progression of my project has enabled me to develop time management skills, communications skills, scientific writing and problem solving qualities;
The day came where I had to attend the 3-day BALR conference and give the oral presentation in front of experienced researchers, PhD students and other respiratory professionals. I was really stressed about being one of the first speakers of the afternoon and especially being timetabled to give the 15-minute talk after the inspirational Prof. Peter Barnes. Nonetheless, I was really fortunate to receive immense support and guidance from the organisers and fellow speakers who calmed my nerves prior the presentation. I was really happy with my talk and fortunate to receive numerous questions indicating that the audience was interested in the idea. I was surprised on how many professionals from the audience were approaching me during the conference to compliment my work.
To conclude, this is a valuable opportunity for aspiring researchers as it enables you to appreciate the difficulties encountered when carrying research and experience what research actually entails! It has been a rewarding experience which enabled me to develop numerous skills and meet like-minded individuals.
I would like to thank the BALR committee for providing me with the exciting opportunity to not only carry research, but also give my first talk and network with inspiring respiratory professionals. A huge thank you to Prof Jenkins for offering me such an interesting idea to work on in his lab and Dr John for providing excellent support and supervision throughout the project.