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ICRME MD learner gets $6,000 scholarship


Photo of Ishani Sharma (left) and Gayle Gordillo, MD (right)

During the summer, over 150 students participate in the Indiana University Medical Student Program for Research and Scholarship. The program helps medical students get involved in paid summer research opportunities in Indiana between the first and second year of medical training. IMPRS also helps provide students grants and one-on-one advising for international research opportunities, serving as a hub for all medical student research opportunities and support in Indiana and beyond.

The Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering participated in the program, hosting Ishani Sharma. Sharma was mentored by Gayle M. Gordillo, MD, the Dr. Sanford, and Thelma E. Glanz Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Divison Chief of Plastic Surgery.

“I hope she has an appreciation for the critical thinking required to do research, which is a very different way of thinking compared to clinical care,” Gordillo said of Sharma. “I also hope she has gained an appreciation for the hard work that goes into generating new knowledge and solving important medical questions.”

We talked with Sharma about her experience in medical research, working with the ICRME, and winning the Marvella Bayh Memorial Scholarship.

What was the topic that you chose that won the scholarship, and what made you select that as your topic?

My research project for the summer was on hemangiomas (A hemangioma is a benign tumor made up of blood vessels). Specifically, it was on “Macrophage Conversion Contributes to Hemangioma Tumor Formation.”

How did you start working with the ICRME as a medical student?

This summer, I was one of over 150 student interns at the Indiana University Medical Student Program for Research and Scholarship. IMPRS is a summer research program for medical students going into their second year of medical school. Through this internship, I was able to select which type of research I wanted to do this summer. I chose clinical translational research/surgery. After I received the internship and was informed that I was selected for the surgery track, I was given a list of principal investigators in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Gordillo’s research in hemangiomas intrigued me the most, so I reached out to her and asked if I could work with her over the summer.

How did you become involved/learn about this scholarship?

As part of the IMPRS program, all of the interns present their research at the end of the summer in a poster symposium. That poster symposium was also a poster competition. The top 27 students of the poster competition were then selected to give oral presentations of their research. Of those students that gave the oral presentations, the top 11 students were awarded scholarships.

What is something you enjoyed about working with the ICRME team?

I absolutely loved working in the ICRME this summer! Everyone was very welcoming and made sure that I felt like a part of the team. Throughout the summer, members of the team were making sure that I felt that I was learning something and that I was getting the most that I could from my time in the lab. By the end of the summer, the whole ICRME team was like a second family to me.

How did you feel when you learned you had won the 2019 IMPRS Award, and how did you feel supported by the team at the ICRME?

Being one of the recipients of the 2019 IMPRS Award was very exciting! I was able to see the culmination of my work in the lab this summer, and I found that the research our lab is doing will make a huge impact on the medical field. Everyone at the ICRME is absolutely incredible and supportive. The staff was always making sure that I had something to do. They not only explained the significance of why we did what we did but also made sure that I had a complete understanding of how the work we did in the lab fit in with the goals of the lab as a whole.

How did your mentor help support you?

Dr. Gordillo’s guidance throughout the summer not only helped me understand the significance of the research that we were doing, but also pushed me to want to learn more. She also taught me the importance of research and how it greatly impacts the clinical care provided to patients.

How do you feel that this experience will help you in your medical education?

Being able to work in a lab where I not only learned basic science techniques but also how to apply the basic science research to a clinical setting will be very useful for me as I complete my education and go on to become a physician. Having these skills is important in being a well-rounded physician, regardless of whether or not I decide to pursue research further, as they will aid me in complex problem-solving. Being in a multi-PI lab showed me the importance of collaboration and teamwork, which is an integral part of being a health care provider.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Marco Gutierrez

Communication Coordinator

Marco Gutierrez is a communications coordinator for the Indiana University School of Medicine, where he supports the Department of Surgery and the Office of Strategic Communications. Before joining the Office of Strategic Communications, Marco worked for...