Less than a week to go

Thursday, July 31st, 2008 @ 5:28 pm | 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!



  • Advice for Future India Fulbrighters
  • Farwell India
  • Meenakshi Temple – Kumbabishekam
  • Spending time in Madurai – In Situ Hybridization
  • Fulbright Conference – Kolkata, Varanasi, and Kathmandu
  • Indian Wedding in Madurai and trip to Bangalore
  • Indian Pilgrimage – Thekkady, Munnar, Mahabalipuram
  • Asia ARVO – Hyderabad
  • Fulbrighters come to Madurai, friends and I visit Dayspring Home
  • Birthday and New Year in Tamil Nadu

    3 Responses to “Less than a week to go”

    1. La Cot Says:

      Ah, yes, I remember learning those tidbits about the Kentucky Long Rifle’s storied past quite some time ago, though I can’t recall whether ’twas in history class long past, a book I read ages ago, or random Dad knowledge. Heck, it was probably all three! Hadn’t thought about it in quite some time.

      If I recall correctly, the purpose of salmon sperm DNA in the prehyb is more or less analogous to BSA or NFDM in other procedures: blocking non-specific background interactions. We’d all love it if we had some real magic ingredients! Still have my eye on a postdoc at Hogwarts–that might do the trick…

    2. Pavak Says:


      Finally found some time to drop few lines on your blog. Blogs are a much better way to communicate long distance. Keep updating them and we will be able to share your moments…

      Best of Luck.

      609 La Crescent

    3. Trudy Hogg Says:

      Paul, I’m following your travels and experiences with much interest.
      I’m looking forward to your comments after you arrive in India.

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