Summer 2017 SURP Internship Reflection

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (aka SURP) is an internship program which permits students from all across the country to gain lab experience working as a lab tech for the summer in the lab of faculty mentors engaged in health-based research.  Many students apply to this program to add something to their resume for med school.  I was permitted to continue to work on my own project.  Typically, students receive a stipend of $3500 in installments throughout the summer, dorm housing covered by the university for the duration of the program, and travel monies (for those who fly in from far states).  I was just given the dorm housing as I am from PA and I was also working under a fellowship with the University Honors College (read more on my post Summer 2017 HCHS Fellowship Reflection if you haven’t already!).  You work typical lab hours (aka whenever you need to work) for the duration of the summer.  You also attend weekly lectures by faculty and former SURP students (and they have food at these lectures so it’s not too bad at all).  Finally, the summer concludes with a formal abstract (see the end of this post for my final abstract!) and a quick 10 minute presentation.

My other post which I linked above talks about what I did for most of the summer, but the last two weeks were a little bit of a different story.  I was in a crunch to get some results for the final presentation so the last two weeks I worked 12 hour days running experiment after experiment, analyzing data, looking up background research to do a secondary analysis, blah blah blah.  By some miracle, I pulled it off and got some pretty cool results in which I saw microbial differences in the gut of diabetic versus non-diabetic pigs.  The final presentation was even better than for the HCHS fellowship!  I got more questions than most other presentations and they were all really interactive questions!

What was really great about this fellowship was living with the other students in the program.  I had an amazing, super sweet roommate and made a new best friend who I can confide in for anythin’ and everythin’.  There were various activities through the summer like a tour of Pittsburgh, a Pirates game, and a day at Kennywood amusement park which allowed us to have a great time and get out of the lab.  I absolutely loved this entire experience and I was so sad to see the summer end!

Special thanks to Carol Williams, Wendy Mars, PhD, Cecelia Yates, PhD, Nahed Ismail, MD, PhD, and all the amazing and inspiring students I got to live and interact with!



Interplay of Vitamin D and the Gut Microbiota in the Regulation of Inflammation as Type 2 Diabetes Develops

Heather Moore1, Zariel Johnson1, Yvette Conley, PhD1, Nahed Ismail, MD, PhD2,3, Cecelia C. Yates, PhD1,2,3
1Department of Health Promotion and Development, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing
2Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
3McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh

Introduction: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has proven to be of utmost importance in clinical care, recognized most recently by the World Health Organization as being diagnosed in more than 422 million individuals worldwide.  The transition of normal glucose tolerance into T2DM includes primarily nutritional and environmental factors. It is postulated that the dysbiosis of the gut microbial community, which largely results from nutritional and physical status, can trigger inflammation that plays significant role in dysregulation of normal glucose tolerance in the progression of prediabetes and diabetes. Recently, vitamin D has emerged as a potential risk modifier of T2DM and a modulator of intestinal inflammation and homeostasis. Although studies have suggested an interconnection among gut microbiome, vitamin D, and T2DM the pathogenic process remains as an important unanswered question. Studies have shown the presence of vitamin D deficiency may double the likelihood of diabetes development. We hypothesized that alteration of the gut microbial community structures and its inflammatory profile during the development of T2DM is, at least in part, modulated by vitamin D metabolic pathways.  In this current study, we examine key differences of gut microbial composition and connections with altered inflammation profiles between non-diabetic and T2DM. Methods: A comprehensive metagenome analysis was performed for compositional and functional alteration of the microbiota which results in the consequent dysglycemia characteristic of T2DM.  Primary methods included diabetic and nondiabetic porcine fecal sample analysis using qPCR.  Results: Our preliminary results revealed, at the genus level, a change in abundance of intestinal bacterium Prevotella and Bacteroides in our diabetic porcine model.  A link between the abundance of Prevotella and Bacteroides is associated with pro-inflammatory responses influenced by Vitamin D. However, the precise microbial composition of the gut microbiota and inflammation impact affected by Vitamin D in the progression of T2DM remains unclear.  Conclusion: These studies reveal to need for a more comprehensive analysis of taxonomic resolution of the gut microbiome and vitamin D to elicit the complex interconnections among gut microbiome, the environment, and the development of T2DM.

Funding Source: American Society of Investigative Pathology (ASIP), Summer Research Opportunity in Pathology Program (SROPP), University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh Department of Pathology

One thought on “Summer 2017 SURP Internship Reflection

  1. Pingback: Summer 2017 HCHS Fellowship Reflection – medicallyblondesite

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