STUDENTS. This year 64 students will have summer jobs as researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, thanks to scholarships from several different foundations. For the first time, students from other programs than the medical program can conduct summer research through scholarships from the Axel Lennart Larsson Fund.
For the past 15 years, medical students at Sahlgrenska Academy could apply for scholarships for summer research, and more than 600 students have been introduced to research in this way. Previously only medical students could seek scholarships for summer research through three foundations: the Mary von Sydow Foundation, the Erik & Lily Philipson Memorial Foundation and Aina Wallström’s and Mary-Ann Sjöblom’s Foundation for Medical Research at the University of Gothenburg. Beginning this summer, however, students from other programs at Sahlgrenska Academy can also apply for scholarships through the Axel Lennart Larsson Fund.
Calm and relaxing
One of the students who will devote part of the summer to research is Magdalena Maszkowska, who has just finished her seventh semester in the medical program. She has long been interested in the mechanisms underlying diseases and in molecular processes in the human brain. This summer she will work with a team at Medicinareberget researching gastrointestinal hormones and how these affect the intake of alcohol and the development of addictive disease.
“I know one of the doctoral students in the team, and I helped with some experiments in my spare time. It was a very calm and relaxing experience, so it seemed like a nice idea for the summer,” says Maszkowska.
Curious and interested
She will learn a technique called Western Blot and optimize parameters to detect and measure protein levels in tissue.
“My experiment is a small part of a larger project dealing with the hormone amylin and its role in addictive diseases. I will supplement the project with information on differences in expression of the receptor for the amylin hormone in mice,” says Maszkowska.
Maszkowska’s supervisor, Elisabet Jerlhag Holm, an associate professor of pharmacology, believes summer research provides an opportunity for students to gain insight into how research is done.
“We have had good experiences over the years with medical students in research. They have been curious and interested in learning more. It is also good for our team to learn from the medical students’ more clinical perspectives.”
Another medical student devoting part of her summer to her interest in research is Nohad El-manzalawy. She came into contact with her supervisor, Professor Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen, through the Students in Research list of supervisors.
“Rehabilitation medicine, and stroke rehabilitation specifically, is a major field constantly advancing, especially as new technology develops. I thought it would be exciting to become involved and see it up close. After a quick review of the team’s various projects, I quickly got in touch with doctoral student Emma Kjörk. She had a project in the start-up phase that I thought sounded very interesting and where I felt I could contribute. I’ve just continued since then!”
Thinking along new lines
In the project, El-manzalawy will evaluate a post-stroke rehabilitation checklist used in elderly housing and identify common problems that occur after a stroke among people living in elderly housing.
“With that knowledge we hope to identify possible problem areas and be able to follow up patients with more targeted interventions. Knowledge about patient compliance and medication follow-ups also is important in terms of secondary prevention and quality of life among these patients,” says El-manzalawy. What she considers most stimulating about the research is getting answers to questions she didn’t know she had.
“The more I learn, the more doors open for new questions and thoughts. Getting involved in research inspires me. After every meeting with my supervisor, my motivation to advance our knowledge is triggered by the discussions we have had. And being around so many people who are incredibly capable within the subject helps develop and stimulate you to think along new lines you haven’t considered before.”
Rehabilitation medicine also provides good experiences for students who have come to conduct summer research, Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen notes. “In some case this has resulted in the student coming back and doing degree projects with us. One has also become a doctoral student here.”
Magdalena Maszkowska ’s summer research is funded by the Erik & Lily Philipson Memorial Foundation. Nohad El-manzalawy’s summer research is funded by the Mary von Sydow Foundation.
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM