Airways Biology Initiative Summer Internship Experience
Summer of 2010
I spent my first co-op at the Airways Biology Initiative (ABI). I really enjoyed working there, as this was my first job-related work experience in a professional environment. Working at ABI was unlike any of the other typical internships/co-ops that I had heard about. There wasn't any filing papers or weeks spent at the computer endlessly surfing the web, counting the minutes until the end of the day. As a student at ABI, I was kept very busy and felt the pressure to perform and to be productive. Every individual there has a wealth of knowledge which can be somewhat intimidating, yet at the same time they were all extremely friendly and helpful, and they were always willing to answer any of my questions or help me whenever I needed it.
During my co-op at ABI much of my time was spent performing cell biology and molecular biology experiments. One of my main responsibilities was to maintain and culture cell lines developed in the lab. I had the opportunity to routinely isolate human airway smooth muscle cells, fibroblast and macrophages from human lung tissue. Another of my responsibilities included measuring mediators released through an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays or ELISAs. In addition to these responsibilities I had the opportunity to learn or observe several other techniques and procedures performed in the laboratory. They included Precision Cut Lung Slices (PCLS), murine FlexiVent (mouse lung function testing), immunohistochemistry staining, and immunocytochemistry staining.
Overall my experience at ABI has been extremely positive and it has given me a strong sense of the demands required to work in a wet bench laboratory. I would strongly recommend the Airways Biology Initiative laboratory to any student who is interested in a career in science and who is looking to gain practical experience in translational research.
Summer of 2011
This past summer I had the opportunity to work as an intern at Airways Biology Initiative’s Summer Research Program. ABI provided me with a valuable research experience that would be very difficult to find elsewhere. I was supervised by Dr. Koziol-White, who showed me what projects were going on in the lab and taught me many laboratory techniques. In addition to observing human lung and trachea dissections, I was able to perform ELISA assays, complete dose response curves with human lung slices, maintain human airway smooth muscle cell cultures, present data at weekly lab meetings, and be a part of an excellent research team. I now feel very confident in my ability to complete the laboratory techniques that I learned this summer because of the way that ABI trained me. First, I was shown a laboratory procedure. Then, I was observed while completing that same procedure. Finally after that, I was able to complete that procedure independently. By teaching in this manner, it was extremely valuable and I can say with confidence that I know exactly how to do an ELISA or how to maintain cells in culture. This approach to teaching the various laboratory protocols procedures was very beneficial and significantly helped me to increase my laboratory skills.
This summer research program also helped me decide what type of career I would like to pursue in the future. By asking PhDs and MDs at ABI about their graduate school or medical school experience, I gained helpful career advice. I would definitely recommend this internship for anyone who is interested in a career in science or medicine. Not all research programs for undergraduate students will offer the opportunity to work with human tissue and learn so many laboratory techniques. I learned a lot in just one summer at ABI and this program was definitely a worthwhile experience.
I had the privilege of working for the University of Pennsylvania’s Airways Biology Initiative (ABI) as a laboratory research intern under the guidance of Dr. Cao & Dr. Panettieri. This was far from the normal monotonous undergraduate job of staring at a computer or accomplishing mindless clerical work. In my position, I was held to the same standards and expectations as the other hardworking ABI laboratory staff. Although it was a little overwhelming at first, the experience was well worth it since I learned a quite bit about medicine, medical occupations, laboratory techniques, and the professional work environment. As a result, I was constantly busy with complicated molecular biology experimental work and I was given the opportunity to learn and practice many cutting edge experimental techniques.
My specific responsibilities included assisting in the maintenance and propagation of ABI’s human airway smooth muscle cells. These cells are essential for the experiments and different collaborations of the ABI labs. In maintaining and propagating these cells, I was afforded the opportunity to learn many different techniques such as, dissecting human lung tissue, trypsinizing cells, freezing cells, stringent aseptic methods, and several different immunohistochemistry techniques which were necessary to characterize these cells. In addition, to those responsibilities I also had the opportunity to perform experiments under Dr. Cao’s supervision, to investigate the protein signaling pathways used by contractile agents to elicit contraction in human airway smooth muscle cells. It was extremely rewarding for me to independently (of course guidance was given often) design, perform, and present the results of these experiments. I found it to be very gratifying and exciting to be a part of the innovation and experimentation of such groundbreaking research. Dr. Cao’s research also required me to learn several other techniques such as western blotting, RNA isolation, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA).
Overall, this was an extremely positive experience for me and I strongly recommend any motivated and interested student to apply for this fantastic opportunity to work at the ABI labs. The experience to work with a strong professional team and great people, as well as, learn life lessons and have fun is well worth it!
Summer of 2012
I have had a great experience working in the Airways Biology Initiative’s research program this summer. I came to ABI with limited lab experience, and everyone was very patient and helpful. I have learned so much over the past few months, which I am extremely thankful for. I have learned many different techniques and other information that I believe will be useful to me in the future.
The ABI lab has a very relaxed atmosphere, so not only was I learning a ton, but I was also enjoying myself while doing it. The staff is friendly and approachable, and they are all experts at what they do. My mentors were very knowledgeable and I had a great time working with them and learning from them. It was also nice to get to know some of the other students working in the lab and hearing about their projects. ABI is really a unique place to work because there are so many different projects in different areas of research going on at the same time. Overall, my summer experience with ABI has been very positive and beneficial, and I’m so glad I was given this opportunity!
During the summer before my second year of medical school, I was very fortunate to do an internship through the Airways Biology Initiative’s Summer Research Program.ABI is a world class airway biology lab with human asthma models that are difficult to find in other airway biology labs.Under Dr. Panettieri's mentorship, I was given the opportunity to measure intracellular calcium in airway smooth muscle using calcium fluorimetry.Additionally, I was able to practice presenting data during weekly lab meetings. I also learned a great deal about cutting edge asthma research during these lab meetings.
As a result of the mentorship and encouragement of the researchers at ABI, I've really come to love research and hope to pursue it as part of my career. I've also become friends with the awesome students who work at ABI. I would encourage anyone interested in biomedical research/medicine to participate in this internship.You can be sure that you will obtain valuable research experience and mentorship that would be difficult to find elsewhere.
During the summer of 2012, I was fortunate to participate in the Airways Biology Initiative’s Summer Research Program. I had the opportunity to work with several professionals while learning many basic science techniques. Under Dr. Hong and Mrs. Li’s guidance, I learned about Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, a genetic disease of which I had never known of before this summer. The research I participated in was focused on understanding the TFE3 transcription factor and more specifically the over-expression of lysosomal genes that occurs due to the starvation of HEK293 cells. By contributing to the research, I was able to gain valuable hands on experience culturing cells, performing Western blots, RT-PCRs, as well as, learn many other laboratory techniques and procedures. I also was given the opportunity to analyze and interpret the data I generated from the experiments I performed.
As a Penn student, I feel that I am extremely lucky to be able to attend various science and laboratory courses taught by experts in their fields. With the ABI summer program, the research and experimentation that I was able to perform allowed me to put into practice, what I learned in the classroom and it provided me with invaluable hands-on experiences. All of the ABI researchers were more than willing to answer all of my seemingly never-ending questions and there seemed to be endless opportunities to learn something new, during my summer internship. Overall my summer spent at ABI was enlightening and most definitely, rewarding.
When I arrived to the Airway Biologics Initiative (ABI) lab at the University of Pennsylvania I received such a warm welcome that I knew my experience here was going to be great. On the start of my first day, I was immediately working with human lung tissue, making slices, harvesting tissue, and learning how each part of the lung can used in the laboratory. As a Drexel University student enrolled in the co-op program we are told that some of the best learning is by actually doing. It was clear that I was going to be doing a lot of learning.
One of my main focuses here at ABI was cell line maintenance and preparations for many of our collaborators. I also investigated pathways involved in many asthmatic and inflammatory responses within airway smooth muscle cells. Some of the laboratory techniques that I used during my time at ABI were: Precision Cut Lung Slices (PCLS), immunohistochemistry staining, gel electrophoresis, tissue culture, RNA and DNA isolations.
My favorite aspect of working at ABI was the environment. Every last person that is a part of ABI has been endlessly helpful and have given me such guidance. I never felt hesitant to ask a question or to propose an idea. Whatever I had to say, it was accepted and explored which makes science so exciting. The ABI team is very committed in teaching young students how to make a career out of science. The team members have a variety of degrees and have taken various different roads in their careers, which was useful in asking questions to help guide me into my path. My experience at ABI helped me build strong laboratory technical skills and well as learning where I fit in the science field.
This summer at the ABI was my first formal experience in a scientific laboratory, and I learned a lot of basic and advanced techniques including cell culture, assaying cellular samples, and harvesting lung tissue samples for the study of asthma and other lung diseases. For cell culture, I learned how to prepare feeding and stock media for the cells to grow or “starve” in, I learned to plate and passage cells, to treat and stimulate cells, and finally how to lyse the cells for further analysis.
I also learned a lot of general lab techniques that included performing ELISAs, Western Blotting (immuno-blotting), BCA protein assay, cell-staining and cyto-spin, cell-counting, and of course, how to perform the data analysis in Microsoft Excel, all of which I had the opportunity to present at the weekly lab meetings.
In regards to harvesting and processing samples, I had the opportunity to observe my mentor Dr. Cynthia Koziol-White inflate a human lung with low-melting point agarose, core sections of the lung containing airways, and slice the cores using Krumdieck tissue slicer to turn them into Precision Cut Lung Slices (PCLS). These lung slices were then treated with different drugs which would cause the airways to either contract or dilate in response to drugs like Carbachol, Isoproterenol, Formoterol, Salmeterol, Albuterol, Forskolin, Dexamethasone, Budesonide, and other beta adrenergic receptor agonists and steroids, which I was already familiar with thanks to the scientific papers also provided to me by my mentor. It wasn’t just about watching my mentor perform these techniques. I also had hands on opportunity to harvest and process mouse lung samples, I got to inflate the left lung through a catheter in the trachea, and perform a retro-orbital eye bleeds to collect blood samples for future analysis.
The summer flew by before I knew it, but it was full of learning and I made a lot of friends. I would definitely recommend the ABI’s summer program to anyone interested in getting some lab experience; its fun and rewarding and a really awesome way to spend the summer.
I began working at ABI in April 2012 for my third and final co-op as a Drexel student. I had previous lab experience and felt very comfortable working in a laboratory setting. Like any new job, however, my work at ABI was a little intimidating at first, but everyone was dedicated to helping and teaching each new employee, making the transition much smoother. We received a human lung on my first day and I began working immediately, coring and slicing airways in the lung tissue. The best part about my experience at ABI has been the fact that you gain your independence very quickly, but you are never alone. Whenever I needed help or clarification for an experiment, there was never a shortage of knowledge and experience within the lab to turn to. I could always turn to Dr. Cao when running western blots, Dr. Koziol-White with any questions about PCLS experiments, Dr. Zhou for help with ELISAs, and of course my mentor, Dr. Banerjee, for learning new techniques, plating and stimulating cell lines, learning about his interest in vitamin D and HDAC inhibition, and guidance in my decision to follow a career in medicine. Dr. Panettieri is one of the most knowledgeable and respected doctors I have ever had the privilege of meeting, and he is never too busy to stop and explain, in detail, every receptor, cascade, and pathway involved in asthma symptoms and treatment.
Many people may think an internship is all work and no play, or vice versa, but at ABI I think there is a good mix of both. There’s no doubt that they expect a lot of work to get done, and done correctly, but events such as the ABI annual picnic and the business persons’ special at the Phillies game are a great escape from the busy work day. It was at these events that I really had the opportunity to get to know my co-workers and supervisors on a personal level. Overall, my time at ABI has been one of the most interesting, knowledge-building, and interactive research opportunity I have had the privilege of experiencing.