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Former Student Reflects on Summer Research Experience at NINDS - By Nathan Rowland

In the summer of 1997, I had an opportunity to participate in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Summer Program in the Neurosciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This highly competitive research training program is designed to attract and train academically talented students for first-rate research on disorders of the brain and nervous system.  A major objective of this program is to expose students to the excitement, challenges, and rewards of health-related research and to prepare them for outstanding careers in biomedical research and academic medicine, especially in the neurosciences. 

That summer, the program was directed by Mr. Levon Parker.  I distinctly remember walking into the lecture room on orientation day of the program and listening intently as he spelled out what was to be a pivotal summer in my research career.  I still remember being impressed by how passionate Mr. Parker was, and it quickly became clear that he set the bar very high and expected us to do no less. 

I was honored to be assigned to the Laboratory of Central Nervous System Studies, a lab that produced a Nobel Laureate.   My preceptor was the late Dr. Clarence Joseph Gibbs, an internationally acclaimed neuroscientist recognized for his pioneering work on infectious diseases of the nervous system.   Dr. Gibbs was also known for his commitment to providing the very best training for his students.

As a summer researcher in Dr. Gibbs’s laboratory, I presented posters on my research projects at the NIH Summer Research Poster Day.  Poster Day provided an opportunity for me to present and discuss my research projects informally with peers and members of the NIH scientific community, and to gain experience in presenting scientific results.   I also had the opportunity to participate in laboratory seminars and attend formal lectures and symposia dealing with the newest advances in health research.  For the work I did on my research project in the Laboratory of Central Nervous System Studies, I was awarded an NINDS Exceptional Summer Student Award.  And as a result of this training, I have successfully presented posters at several annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience. 

In fact, I owe a lot of my commitment to doing top-notch science to Mr. Parker and the NINDS Summer Program in the Neurosciences.  At the present time, I am in the final year of my Ph.D. studies in the neurosciences as part of the MD/PhD program at Emory University  in Atlanta, GA.    This past year, I succeeded in publishing my first peer-reviewed journal article in the Journal of Neurophysiology.  


Last updated December 20, 2013