UToledo medical student Rajit Banerjee is taking his research interests to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this year.
Banerjee, a UToledo bioengineering graduate in spring 2017, was accepted into the Medical Research Scholars Program, a one-year research fellowship at the NIH, for the class of 2020-21. He will be working at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, with the Clinical Center’s Chief of Biomechanics in the Rehab Medicine Department, Dr. Diane Damiano, who serves as his mentor this year. His research focus is on neural interfacing techniques and rehabilitative exoskeletons to investigate and improve motor coordination in children with cerebral palsy.
“My experience thus far at the NIH has been transformative,” Banerjee said. “And having the opportunity to not only learn from scientific leaders in medicine but to partner with them in order to advance human health is extremely humbling and gratifying.”
In addition to being assigned a research advisor, Banerjee is involved in another project with the medical director of biomechanics, Dr. Katharine Alter, a UToledo alumna, and two residents from MEDSTAR National Rehab Hospital that is examining shear-wave elastography for trigger point injections.
As per the program, fellows are required to present about significant groundbreaking articles and research studies. Recently, Banerjee gave an ethics presentation regarding the ethics of the controversial Willowbrook Studies, in which mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, New York, were intentionally infected with the hepatitis virus in order to study the disease.
“It was well received by many, and thus they recommended that I present at the grand rounds for the entire Rehabilitation Medicine Department for a broader audience,” he said.
Banerjee said he is thankful for the faculty and staff within the College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ Office of Student Affairs and Dr. Stephanie Mann in the Department of Medical Education for preparing him for interviews for the program.
“After the initial selection process, they ended up interviewing about 90 of those medical students nationally at the Bethesda campus with a final selection of around 50 students,” he said. “I’m truly grateful for the practice interviews as they paid off.”
“I’m really excited to be representing UToledo and starting this endeavor in the [physical medicine and rehabilitation] field,” Banerjee added.
The NIH Medical Research Scholars Program is a comprehensive, yearlong research enrichment program designed to attract the most creative and research-oriented medical, dental and veterinary students to the intramural campus of the NIH in Bethesda.
Student scholars engage in a mentored basic, clinical or translational research project on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, or at nearby NIH facilities that match their research interests and career goals. MRSP prepares its scholars to become tomorrow’s leaders in medicine and biomedical research.