Articles

High School Students Conducting Research, Our Future

by Sonika Tatipalli, Divya Honavar, and Mala Niverthi, The GTF Group

Introduction

Global Thrombosis Forum (GTF, www.gtfonline.net) is an affiliate of the North American Thrombosis Forum (NATF, www.natfonline.org), consisting of young members conducting research related to thrombosis and other research-related topics. For the past several years, we have seen that several of our high school colleagues have been given opportunities to participate in research-oriented internships at various universities. We have often been rightfully told that we are the future of the country. In this article, we are going to explore the role of research in one’s life and its importance.

The fear of the intimidating word, “Research” to a high school student

Research for high school students? A few years ago, research was restricted only to college and postgraduate students. When high schoolers were met with the word “research”, a wave of intimidation was used to fill their minds. However, there is far more to research than merely absent-minded professors who spend hours in laboratories conducting experiments. Research is found in every corner of the world as we know it, even in the simplest of places. High schoolers often find themselves stuck with the mindset that they do not think complexly enough to conduct research projects, yet they are often the most capable of collecting relevant and valuable data that can make a true difference in the world. Through this article, we want to get rid of the fear from the minds of our high school colleagues, since research is the backbone and a necessary element of our lives.

Research as an integral part of our life

Cellphones, automobiles, browsing the internet, predicting hurricanes and storms and medications. What do all these things have in common? They all exhibit the importance of research in everyday life; we would not be able to do these today without preceding decades of trial and error.

Research increases the quality of life

Basic research has led to some of the most commercially successful and life-saving discoveries of the past century, including the laser, vaccines and drugs, and the development of radio and television. We know now that modern problems require modern solutions. Research is a catalyst for solving the world’s most pressing issues, the complexity of which evolves over time. The entire wealth of research findings throughout history has led us to this great quality of life.

Research empowers us with knowledge

Everyone knows that scientists carry out research, and the rest of the world benefits from their findings. We get to know the way of nature, and how our actions affect it. We gain a deeper understanding of people, and why they do the things they do. Best of all, we get to enrich our lives with the latest knowledge of health, nutrition, technology, and business, among others.

Research drives the progress forward

Thanks to scientific research, modern medicine can cure diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. We’ve been able to simplify vaccines, diagnosis, and treatment across the board. Even COVID-19, a novel disease, could be studied based on what is known about the SARS coronavirus. Now, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been working on has proven 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.

What is Research?

Research is a systematic, iterative process of gathering information to explain occurrences and draw conclusions. The main purpose of research is to explore, describe, and conclude. One designs the research idea, explores old information, conducts research to gain understanding, and concludes with results. Research is never-ending as there is always something more to explore. Not only is research an invaluable tool for building on crucial knowledge, it’s also the most reliable way we can begin to understand the complexities of various issues; to maintain our integrity as we disprove lies and uphold important truths; to serve as the seed for analyzing convoluted sets of data; as well as to serve as ‘nourishment’, or exercise for the mind.

Why is research necessary and so valuable?

Several thoughts come to our mind when someone asks this question

1. It’s a tool for building knowledge and facilitating learning.

2. It’s a means to understand issues and increase public awareness.

3. It helps us succeed in business.

4. It allows us to disprove lies and support truths.

5. It is a means to find, gauge, and seize opportunities.

6. It promotes a love of and confidence in reading, writing, analyzing, and sharing valuable information.

7. It provides nourishment and exercise for the mind.

The Research Process

The research process involves identifying, locating, assessing, and analyzing the information you need to support your research question, and then developing and expressing your ideas. It is often necessary to rethink, revise, and add additional material or even adjust your topic. Much will depend on what you discover during your research.  Because research is a fluid process, there is no foolproof way of conducting it. There are various obstacles that arise as the process continues right from choosing a research design to achieving results. However, what matters is how these obstacles are managed. One of the biggest challenges is the collection and abstraction of data. However, with few modifications and efficient use of resources and research tools, researchers are able to achieve successful results.

Importance of Research

Research into the world of physics, biology, economics, and culture all translate into insights that change the way we live. Most notably, those insights lead to an understanding that contributes to the development of new technology. The significance of research can be found through imagining the world without research and no advancements of any kind. The entire world would lead a mundane routine, with no passage of information between communities. The mortality rate would rise with various diseases and no cures. In fact, even during the current COVID-19 pandemic, research plays a huge role, because, with no research, there would be no chance of creating the vaccine.
As we learn more about the significance of the research, it is also an invaluable tool to help expand one’s knowledge, improve the accuracy of ideas that one might have previously presented and lead to discoveries. With research, new insights are made, and society is advanced.

Our mentors

In GTF, there are several mentors to coach and guide us through our research journeys. Here is a brief introduction to our mentors:

  1. Atul Laddu, MD, PhD, FACC: Laddu is the founder of GTF, which he started about 10 years ago. He has a strong passion for teaching, research and helping young kids. Moreover, he has extensive experience in Clinical Research, Medicine, Pharmacology, and has published several scientific publications. Dr. Laddu also has been an editor or member of the editorial board of several scientific journals. He is a very passionate mentor and a coach. He likes giving challenging research projects to students, and has even mentored some of the other GTF mentors.
  2. Jawed Fareed, PhD: Dr. Fareed is the Professor of Pathology and Pharmacology at Loyola University School of Medicine. He is a very experienced researcher and has been with Loyola for the last over 40 years. He is one of the most renowned researchers in the World, and is a great teacher. For the past several years, Dr. Fareed has been taking several of GTF students as summer interns and providing them challenging projects for research, and also has been able to provide opportunities to GTF students to submit the research work for presentation at various scientific societies.
  3. Shaker Mousa, PhD: Dr. Mousa is a very experienced researcher at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Pharmaceutical Research Institute. His work on nanotechnology has been recognized the world over. Doctor Mousa also coaches several of our GTF interns for research, and many of these students have presented their research work at various scientific societies.
  4. Joseph Caprini, MD: Dr. Caprini is the inventor of the world famous Caprini score. He is a retired physician, and Senior Clinician Educator at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. He is also an Emeritus physician at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois. Dr. Caprini has provided the GTF students multiple research opportunities, and is extremely well versed with all aspects of medicine, especially venous thromboembolism. The research by GTF students under Dr. Caprini has resulted in publications and presentations at international scientific meetings.
  5. Rashmi Kulkarni, MD: Dr. Kulkarni is a primary care physician, who is very passionate about coaching the young children of GTF. She, herself, has coached 2 of her young GTF kids and is really helpful to GTF.
  6. Aditya Sathe: He is a 3rd year medical student, who is one of the best mentors GTF has found, as he knows his Medicine very well and has helped us in a few projects. Aditya’s style is delegation of the work to us, and we enjoy this freedom.
  7. Priya Lokasundaram: Priya is a nursing student and wants to help the younger students. She has taken on several GTF projects, explaining the project, taking on questions, and giving us independence with research. She helps put the various pieces of research together and create a document in a story like fashion. Priya ascribes her mentorship skills to her mentor, Dr. Atul Laddu.

The Role of Research in Our Lives

While research does act as the overarching catalyst in this world, it has specific purposes for each individual. For some, research is leading to a treatment for a disease. While for others, it could mean a new prospect in their field. Simply, research could mean a process taken to navigate a tough decision.

Research is what propels humanity forward and is powered by curiosity. It drives one to ask questions, and discover everything there is to explore. Every individual has a constant exposure to research. It is not limited to one field. Although research is considered academia, you see it in every profession. For example, to prepare a meal for the family, your mom would visit the market and find the specific items, while another professional would work on their idea by analyzing, exploring, and delivering results. Although the examples contrast, both individuals did some form of research.

From waking up and choosing what to eat to thinking about work, we are constantly making decisions. In fact, throughout the day, people make around 35,000 decisions per day. Each of these decisions require some sort of research. Without curiosity and research, progress would slow to a halt, and our lives as we know them would be completely different.

GTF High School students as Research Interns

Several of GTF high school students have performed research internships at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Loyola University, the Promoting Awareness of Clotting outcomes PACO Foundation. We are citing few of the numerous examples of research internships performed by GTF students:

ACPHS

Mentor: Shaker Mousa, PhdD

  1. Ananya Mahesh: Why would a COVID vaccine cause Rare Blood Clots?
  2. Ankita Mahajan: What are the Differences between Heparin and Direct Oral Anticoagulant in the management of COVID-19?
  3. Malvika Sawant: Is there a benefit in combining anticoagulant and antiplatelet in COVID-19 treatment?
  4. Radhika Kulkarni: Could Heparin benefit patients with COVID-19, beyond the anticoagulant effect?
  5. Sonika Tatipalli: Are There Links Between the Surge in DVT Cases and COVID?

Loyola University

Mentor: Jawed Fareed, PhD

  1. Anushka Bhate: “Thrombo-inflammatThrombo-inflammatory biomarkers of cardiorenal syndrome in patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis in end-stage renal disease (ESRD)”
  2. Krishan Patel: “Public Perception of Current COVID-19 Vaccinations: results of a Pilot Survey”
  3. Prasad Shetye: “Molecular and cellular pathogenesis of endothelial lining in atrial fibrillation.
  4. Rishima Sharma: “Oxidative stress biomarkers and their relative relevance to fatty acid binding proteins (FABP) in stage 5 chronic kidney disease patients (CKD-5)
  5. Sanket Gavankar: “Collagen Remodeling Proteins, Inflammatory Biomarkers, and FABP regulation in Understanding the Pathogenesis of Atrial Fibrillation”.

Learning research through interviews

Oftentimes, learning from the experts themselves can be a simple and direct way to learn something. GTF has conducted interviews with Dr. Stephan Ober who is a physician, but had to get one of his legs amputated due to his inherent medical conditions. Dr. Ober, despite this handicap, is very active in his life.

We also interviewed Dr. Stephan Moll, a hematologist. Dr. Moll was called for by NASA for his expertise when an astronaut was found to have a blood clot during the space ride.  The clot was successfully treated via the advice given by Dr. Moll. We thus learned a lot from Moll’s successes in life. An article interviewing Dr. Moll was published in an earlier issue of the Indian Periodical.

Dr. Joseph Caprini, the inventor of the World-famous Caprini score, was another physician who gave us a glimpse at his very successful life filled with a lot of research that has saved countless lives. An article interviewing Dr. Caprini was published in an earlier issue of the Indian Periodical.

The first-hand insight of these experts towards their respective fields of practice allows us, high school students, to obtain an idea of what their professional, as well as personal, lives entail.

A few years ago, before COVID-19 created a major dislocation in our life, GTF students routinely visited institutions such as attending the 10th Anniversary of the North American Thrombosis Forum, ACPHS, Evanston Hospital, Harvard University, Loyola University, etc. and meeting well-known physicians such as Arthur Sasahara, MD, Jawed Fareed, PhD, Joseph Caprini, MD, Samuel Goldhaber, MD, Shaker Mousa, PhD, to mention a few.

The sole purpose of these visits was to familiarize the students with various activities at these institutions to create an excitement and a desire to conduct research during their high school career.

Learning research through attending various meetings

GTF has provided another great opportunity for us to understand research, through the various meetings. Throughout the year, there are several meetings held on selected research topics. In each of these meetings, there are members from prestigious universities, doctors, and high school GTF students, who present their different research topics. Some of the major meetings that occur annually include a symposium, the BRIDGE event, HSS day, and the PACO foundation:

  1. Each year, there is an annual symposium in early January, in which young members of GTF, the adult physicians of GTF, and some staff members of Loyola University present their particular research topics in a predetermined field. The overarching topics for the 2020 and 2021 symposiums were gastrointestinal and cardiovascular, respectively.
  2. In early June, GTF and the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences hold the BRIDGE (BEGINNING RESEARCHERS INVOLVED in DISCOVERY through GUIDANCE and EXPLORATION) event. On this day, the GTF summer interns present their research data collected during the 5 weeks of research conducted, along with other PowerPoint and poster presentations.
  3. Similarly, the HSS Day (High School Scholars Day) is held at Loyola University each year during the month of July. This event deserves a special mention because this is one day of the year where the Loyola system has designated in the honor of the high school students from GTF. Other GTF members also present their research through PowerPoint or posters.
  4. The anniversary of the PACO Foundation (Promoting Awareness of Clot Outcomes) is held in October each year, in which GTF interns and research students get an opportunity to present their research topics.

The commonality between these events is how eye-opening it is to the attendees. All of these events not only give GTF members a major opportunity to present their research data but also experience the higher-level research that is presented. Overall, these meetings are very informational and play a significant role in learning research.

Conclusion                                                                                                                             

Research undoubtedly makes our lives easier. We witness so much evidence that we overlook how much it impacts us. It is not magic. It is not a coincidence that when we take the proper medication, we begin to feel better. It is research that got us that medication. We are surrounded by the advancements that research has brought us and the key to it is accurate results. Without research in our lives, the world would not be able to function at all. Research is the driving force behind every object, theory, and concept. We at GTF feel extremely proud that we have been shown the right road towards research, and have opened up new channels with lots of challenges. Research is no more just for college or postgraduate students. With this article, we would like to emphasize that high school students are the future of the World, and through unique and creative research, we are bringing newer technology to the World, making it a better and enjoyable place to live, no matter where you are.

A message to our high school friends all over the World:                                                            

To our millions of high school friends Worldwide, we would like to invite you to take on research. Once you get deep into research, you will discover several exciting and unknown facts that will be with you all your life. The research will make your future a bright one. Acknowledgements                                                                                                                         

We would like to thank Dr. Atul Laddu, Mrs. Jayashree Laddu, Mrs. Archana Athalaye, and the entire GTF team to give us this opportunity for guidance and mentoring and Mr. Sateesh Tatipalli for assisting and of course our parents for their constant support and guidance.

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. Future doctors doing research on research.. great article

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