Bryant, Wells study rheumatoid arthritis during Vanderbilt research internship
Posted July 10, 2012
Carson Bryant and Ben Wells, seniors at The Webb School, are participating this summer with other students from across the nation in the Research Experience for High School Students at Vanderbilt University. Bryant and Wells were selected through a competitive process for the six-week intense scientific research internship.
They are working on a project that relates to dissertation research of Chase Spurlock, a 2005 Webb graduate who is in the Vanderbilt pathology doctoral program.
The major goal of the research is to better understand the cause and development of rheumatoid arthritis, a common inflammatory autoimmune disease. The laboratory’s principal investigator is Dr. Thomas Aune. Aune is a professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology and immunology within Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
The program website notes that “all REHSS participants also attend weekly breakout sessions as a group led by a team of Vanderbilt faculty, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students. These breakout sessions complement the student’s lab experience by developing skill sets for scientific communication and comprehension, as well as, expose students to the Vanderbilt research community, scientific careers, and university studies.”
REHSS culminates with an end-of-summer research symposium where students will present their projects in a public research poster forum, consistent with national scientific meetings.
In the accompanying photos, Bryant and Wells are at work in a university lab. Bryant, a Rockvale resident, is looking at synoviocytes, which have been surgically isolated from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Cells, such as these, are used in the studies to identify new targets for drug development. Wells, a Smyrna resident, is treating cells with a drug called methotrexate. Methotrexate is the most commonly prescribed pharmacologic in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Developing a better understanding for how this drug works to reduce the chronic, destructive inflammation found in rheumatoid arthritis patients is a major goal of the research.
During a recent visit to Vanderbilt, Webb Head of School Ray Broadhead had an opportunity to see the students and talk about their internship experiences. The students also met Dr. Robert Collins, professor at Vanderbilt and a 1945 Webb alumnus. Pictured are, from left, Spurlock, Aune, Wells, Broadhead, Bryant and Collins.