Through their lens: Nancy Tran gets a new perspective on stem cell and medical research

This summer we’re sponsoring high school interns in stem cell labs throughout California. We asked those students to contribute to ourInstagram photos and YouTube videos about life in the lab, and write about their experiences. 

Nancy Tran changing media flasks containing mesenchymal stem cells. She submitted this photo through Instagram to CIRM’s #CIRMStemCellLab collection

My name is Nancy Tran and I am currently a junior at Sheldon High School. My internship at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures has been an extraordinary experience. I have been working with my mentor, Dr. Fernando Fierro on the Wound Team and throughout the eight weeks, I have learned to do so many things I never imagined I would be capable of doing. The best thing about my internship would have to be working side-by-side with brilliant researchers. Without the doctors, graduate students, and people there to aid me, I would not have been able to gain so much knowledge about stem cells and what it is like to work in a lab environment.

Working with stem cells –mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) specifically has fascinated me so much because these cells can potentially become so many different parts in the human body such as: bone, cartilage, fat, conduct revascularization, and tendon repair. Stem cells actually play a huge role with medical research because of all the diseases people can potentially treat using this cells. Like using HIV vectors to fight HIV; this is very ironic –or using MSCs for vascularizing patients with critical limb ischemia. Furthermore, through my stem cell biology class, I have learned about the classifications of stem cells, different types, and even about working in the GMP –Good Manufacturing Practice and using sterile technique. Being able to work in the GMP facility was also really amazing because of how clean it is. For example, there are only 10,000 particles greater or equal to 0.5 micron per cubic foot per minute, compared to the 35,000,000 particles in the outside environment. The projects being conducted and equipment in the GMP are very intriguing to me.

The most challenging thing was to catch up on the different types of cells, genes, and names because there was just so much information being exposed to us. This was cumbersome because I came to this internship not knowing very much about stem cells, but now I am very happy with how much more I was able to learn. As for my career, I am still keeping my mind open to various kinds of work in the medical field. Working in the lab and conducting research also became a possible route for my career because I find it exciting especially when you discover techniques and cures. My family very much supports me receiving this opportunity and are all extremely proud of what I have experienced and learned.

This internship has changed my perspective on both stem cell and medical research. There are infinite research topics and ways to approach a certain disease. After my time at this internship, it has opened my mind to a deeper understanding of what stem cell research is like. Overall, I am deeply humble and thankful for receiving this once in a life time opportunity with the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures and am hopeful that through this, it will bring me one step closer to success.

Nancy Tran

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