Trang Lu was one of eleven undergraduate students in the California State University system to win the prestigious 2009 Doris A. Howell Research Scholars Award sponsored by the Howell Foundation and California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB). The award is meant to encourage students to do outstanding research and pursue research careers related to women's health.
My name is Trang Lu. I am a graduating senior at Cal Poly Pomona, with a double major in Arts and Biotechnology. My research faculty advisor is Dr. Jill Adler-Moore from the Biological Sciences department. The title of my research is Antibacterial Activity of Thermal Sensitive Liposomes (TSLs) Encapsulating Amikacin. We are developing an alternative method to deliver drugs to infection sites in the body that will minimize the toxicities associated with many drugs on healthy tissues, and at the same time provide a high concentration of drugs at the infection site, resulting in speedy healing.
Have you ever had one of those candies where the outside is solid and the inside is liquid? And, when you put it in your mouth, it warms up, the shell starts to melt, and eventually the liquid core is released? Well, in our lab, we are in the process of perfecting a drug design with similar characteristics where the drug is stored inside a capsule, called a liposome, but the liposome is the size of a virus so that it can circulate in the body intact, at normal body temperature. But, when the liposome reaches an infection site, the drug is released because the temperature there is higher than other areas in the body. I have been working on this project for over a year and a half, and we have made significant progress. We have shown that different amounts of drug can be released at different temperatures. Although our results are promising, we need to continue with our experiments to obtain reproducible and reliable data.
I thought that the 2009 Cal Poly Pomona RISE/HHMI/McNair Student Research Symposium was a very valuable experience. It was a great opportunity for me, not only to present my research topic and to educate my fellow peers and our faculty, but it was also a chance for me to improve my communication skills and confidence in public speaking. In return, I also attended other research presentations by my colleagues, and learned about the variety of research on campus conducted by students and faculty, and the contribution that they are making to the scientific community. The symposium was a venue for all students from different disciplines to come together and share their ideas, data, and progress, and to educate their peers. It also served as a boost of motivation to continue our hard work despite the many mistakes and failures we encounter during our experimentations. The symposium was a highlight of our research experience, and it was our moment to share with others the successful experiments that were carried out and the promising data that were obtained. This symposium was also an opportunity to promote collaboration among students and faculty from different disciplines within the College of Science, and to encourage others to get excited and involved in scientific research.
As an undergraduate, I feel very fortunate to be conducting academic research at a graduate level. Research has taught me to be more organized, to manage my time better, and to be patient. The hands-on experiences and the discipline that I have gained are invaluable, because I am equipped with the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in graduate level work when I enter medical school. It is very rewarding to be able to apply what I have learned in my academic classes in a real-world setting. The concepts in textbooks that seemed fuzzy to me before are now becoming clear and understandable. In addition, I am learning about the interactions between drugs and microorganisms and their adverse affects on tissues in the body. I strongly believe that my research experience will provide me with the necessary tools to become an effective physician and researcher when I pursue a dual MD/PhD program in the near future. Continuing to be involved in research will help me become a better future care-provider, because it is important to understand the many different therapeutic treatments available, and to be able to critically evaluate them for use in my patients.
September 10, 2009