Archive for July, 2008


Less than a week to go

Jul 31, 2008 in Uncategorized

Last week I took the Step 2CK exam in Chicago. I think it went well, but I have to wait a few weeks to find out the results. I can tell you that nine hours sat staring at a computer screen was no fun! At least it was the last of these large board exams that I will have to sit for during medical school. The final board exam, Step 3, is taken during residency. One nice thing about being in Chicago for this exam was that my friend, a comedian named Shane Mauss, also passing through town and we got to go out and celebrate together after the exam. Chicago happens to be about half way between home and my next destination…

I was off to Kentucky for some pre-Aravind research training as suggested by Dr. Muthukaruppan. I was fortunate to receive this training in a top notch Ophthalmology research laboratory, Dr. Ambati’s lab at the University of Kentucky. I worked with an excellent MD/PhD student there, who gave me suggestions on how to design my future In Situ Hybridization experiments and walked me through one of the two-day experiments step by step. I can’t help but notice how that molecular biology research experiments are similar cooking from a recipe, its a little tedious. Molecular biology can remind me of alchemy too, because it involves “magical” ingredients… For example, the prehybridization solution for this particular experiment specifically requires denatured salmon sperm DNA as one of the reagents. Whaaa? I know, its hard to believe, so check out the Cold Spring Harbor manual.

It was nice to meet the postdocs and residents working in the lab, we got to “talk shop” about Ophthalmology for a few days. One resident recommended that I set up contact with Unite for Sightwhen I get to India, and I may look into that more as things progress in India. Interestingly, the lab has a contract with SeaWorld, and regularly gets shipments of manatee, dolphin, and various whale eyes for research. It turns out that the manatee cornea does not have secretory VEGF inhibitors, which ordinarily prevent blood vessels from growing over the corneas of almost every other animal on earth. Romulo, the MD/PhD student thinks that the evolutionary basis for this may be due to the turbid environment where the manatee lives (ie. no fitness advantage for clear cornea because they can’t see far anyway). In the end, the highlight of my trip was when Dr. Ambati was offered me a job! Haha. Sadly, I had to decline.

It was fun to get out and see a little of Louisville while I was in the area. I went to the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill downs. I am not usually very interested in horses or horse racing, but it was cool to see the track and the horses. I also went to the Frazier International History museum, which is really a gun and armoury history museum. Apparently, the majority of the famous Kentucky Long Rifles were actually made in Pennsylvania, who knew? I also had a chance to have some fun one evening on 4th Street in Louisville. It was definitely interesting to watch people ride the mechanical bull!

My contract from Fulbright arrived in the mail while I was away in Kentucky, and is sitting on the kitchen table waiting for me now. When I sign it and send back the four requested copies, it will be the last formality I need to clear up before I leave next week. August 6th I fly from Minneapolis to eventually arrive in Delhi on the 25th. I’ll have two weeks in France with Audrey and Greg and a few days in the UK with friends from Lancaster Uni before the final leg of my trip. Less than a week from now I’ll be in Montpellier!

Pre-departure Orientation

Jul 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

Fulbright India StudentsThe pre-departure orientation was for Fulbright researchers (students) and scholars (professors) going to South and Central Asia. I was a great time to meet other Fulbrighters, especially those traveling to India. I learned that although there are not other students going to Madurai, there will be a few professors in the near vicinity. One who in fact has spent several of the last 20 years living in Madurai. Its exciting to know that I will have other people in the neighborhood to visit with!

The highlights of the orientation included a safety session by George Goodrich, who talked about keeping safe overseas. I think he provided us with some great advice, most of which is common sense, but sometimes we forget the simple things. For example, how to maintain a low profile while overseas (including not wearing college gear, etc.). Another Fulbrighter pointed out that personal safety is a challenge for women who may be subject to harassment on the streets. I suggested a whistle and spiky clothes. But seriously, what about mace in emergency situations? He also recommended some interesting web sites which are now included in my links section (see right).

We also got to meet Girish Kaul, the Senior Program Officer for USEFI. Everyone seems impressed with how well he has done facilitating our scholarships so far, and the previous students had only good things to say too. Nice!

The second evening of orientation we had a formal dinner reception. The seating was assigned, which turned out well because I met some of the scholars traveling to India. Most of them were working on projects that sounded interesting, but way over my head. Like the study of fractals for solid surface analysis or dissecting the nature of intelligence through the caste system. Stimulating conversations though.

The final thing I would like to write about is the presentation by Gary Weaver on Cross Cultural Issues. His presentation was in the morning on the third day of the orientation, so good thing it was interesting and entertaining! One of the things he talked about was an analogy of culture to an iceberg. Behaviors are above the water as the portion you see, but the majority of the monster is below the water in thoughts and values. Interesting. Obviously I’m not going to do his presentation justice here, but the discussion about how Americans live in a “to do” culture where we identify ourselves by what we do vs. the “to be” culture of many parts of the developing world who describe themselves based on relationships from birth was useful. Also, Indians will come up with creative ways of saying “no” without actually saying it, and I should do the same to avoid being rude or crass. Sounds easy enough.

Anyway, I thought that the best part of the whole trip to Washington was the formal dinner and the pub afterward, despite the fact that the speaker during dinner was not impressive (being generous here). See below for some of my pictures from the Renaissance Hotel Lobby and Irish Pub afterward:

Press Releases

Jul 02, 2008 in Uncategorized

Click this link to view the Press Release for my Fulbright Award

The La Crosse Tribune printed this article after I returned to the U.S. 

Drexel University College of Medicine also printed this article in the February 2009 Newspager, and this one in the November 2009 Newspager.