This summer I stayed in State College and worked in a cardiovascular research lab under Dr. Keefe Manning. In this lab, my project focused on finding the trapping efficiency of inferior vena cava filters through tests with varied materials and ultimately deformable blood clots. Prior to my part of the project, an FDA approved flow loop was created to simulate the left and right iliac and the inferior vena cava with a Bard G2 Express IVC filter. Varied materials were used to test the efficiency of the filter. Deformable blood clots were created and tested through the filter while a high speed camera caught the flow from the front and side view. Various processing tools such as Image J and MATLAB in order to create trajectory plots of the clot. The final results were the trajectory plots as well as the efficiency of the filter for different shapes and sizes of clots.
This experience was very important to me because I really want to go into the medical field later in life, and doing research is the first step. This program allowed for funding for me to stay in State College and get the research experience I was looking for. Cardiovascular research has been something I have been interested in my entire life and it is very cool for me to contribute in any way possible. This research is important because it can potentially save the lives of patients that would need this filter (usually patients with deep vein thrombosis). The research I am currently working on has never been done before so contributing to something new in the medical field is a dream come true. This experience also helped me to decide that I am going to apply to graduate school as part of my gap year before I apply to medical school.
I am currently a biology major with a math minor. The lab I worked in was technically a biomedical engineering lab. With that, I did not have the engineering background as everyone else in the lab however I did have the biology background that others did not have. I was working with different solutions as well as bovine blood for this experience. Having taken chemistry 110, 111, 112, 113, 210,212,213 was essential in this experience. It was useful when I was creating polyacrylamide gels for testing which required some chemistry background in order to get the gels just right. It was also helpful when working with the blood simulant because we had to match the approximate density of the solution with real blood. The properties of blood is also something I had learned in previous biology classes which I didn’t really need to know but it was just nice to have a little background!
I learned so much from this experience! I not only gained literal knowledge but I gained skills that can be used in my future. The biggest thing that I learned was the importance of working in a team. I would have been lost without the help of everyone else in the lab. Everyone in my lab had different projects but if I ever needed any help or had any questions they were there to help me! Better results come from people working together! I also learned a lot about biomedical engineering; I learned about devices and different flow loops. From this I have decided that I am applying to graduate school in BME to decide if this is what I want to do with my future. This experience has opened so many doors for me and I am forever grateful!