Martin Chidyausiku Researching DNA at Yale University
Victoria De Sormoueax, Ifeanyi Emole and I arrived here in New Haven for the commencement of our Yale Sackler Internship on the 31st of May. I must say it has truly been an amazing experience. After we were shown to our rooms by the lovely resident manager, Jocelyn Traina, we went to meet all the other Sackler fellows who were also chosen on the basis of being the best in their respective schools. We had a cookout at the house of Dr. Lynee Regan, who is the director of the Sackler Institute. There we met up with students from Duke University, Connecticut College and the University of Maryland Baltimore to name a few. We also were introduced to our respective principle investigators (PIs) whose labs we will be working in and whose mentorship we would be under. I met my PI, Dr. Patrick Sung, and his lovely wife and got a chance to discuss his lab goals, interests and current projects. Currently, Dr. Sung’s research involves investigating genes and proteins responsible for repairing DNA in cells including the BRCA genes that are the catalyst for breast cancer.
The following day was both hectic and exciting as I got to see my lab for the first time. Although, I am the only fellow in our program whose lab is located in the Yale Sterling Hall School of Medicine it was not lonely. The Sung lab is a big lab that has more than 12 friendly members – two post-graduates, Dr. Dorina Saro & Dr. Valeria Busygina, of which I will work with personally. The lab focuses on projects which involve radioactively labeled DNA experiments, thin layer chromatography, DNA hybridization, gel electrophoresis and so much more. I started work on Tuesday with an evaluation on research fundamentals. I am thankful to (Claflin Assistant Professor of Biology) Dr. Nicholas Panasik for adequately preparing us for in our intense Journal Club meetings at Claflin. Last year’s Claflin Sackler fellows, Jennifer Ozomna and Naeema Hooker, gave us tips as well as where we, as a group, discussed relevant articles and research topics.
Yesterday, we attended workshops (with lunch) conducted by the assistant director of the program, Dr. Dorottya Blaho, on lab safety and research ethics. They were informative and interesting. It was also nice to meet and talk to the other fellows and find out how their Yale experience was going. I found that the general consensus was, “exciting but tough, however well worth the work!” For my lab today, I had to take and successfully complete the first part of the grueling radiation training with NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) to earn certification to work with radioactive substances. Now, I am off to take the second parto of that training which also requires extensive studying. Wish me luck!