On August 8, 28 students from the 2013 NEI Summer Internship Program participated in the NIH Summer Research Program Poster Day. They explained their posters, what they did, and how it was accomplished.
Andrea Li, a senior at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia never thought much about eyes, especially her own. That was until the summer of 2012, when she experienced a temporary loss of vision. It was then she understood how scary and dangerous vision loss could be. That sparked her interest in vision-related diseases. It brought her to the Unit on Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research, Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function Branch, where she worked with Dr. Kapil Bharti on researching degenerative eye diseases.
Her research was looking into a layer of cells in the eye that are essential in supporting vision. She was trying to identify a set of unique surface biomarkers that can assist in purifying these cells for eventual transplantation into patients. Currently, there are no known surface biomarkers unique to these cells. In finding a novel set of these proteins, purification of stem cell-based treatments are facilitated, potentially putting NEI one step closer to treating degenerative eye diseases.
Andrea loves working in the lab and learning so many new techniques/information about the eye. “I have definitely met a lot of researchers and made some really good friends this summer. Working with them in the lab, learning from them, and listening to all the different projects and how they fit into the bigger picture has been really rewarding,” she said.