Mary Brown, a rising 10th grade student at Five Knolls Academy in Waxhaw, NC, is a recipient of a Research Fellowship Award from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Foundation to study digestive diseases at North Carolina State University.
One of 10 fellowships granted by the AGA Foundation nationally, the $2,500 award will allow Brown a minimum of 10 weeks of study with mentor Dr. Anthony Blikslager, a professor of surgery and gastroenterology at NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM).
[Mary’s story has been reported by several newspapers and radio stations. Here’s a feature in the News & Observer]
Recipients are selected on the basis of their personal attributes, the research project’s “novelty, feasibility, and significance,” the record of the sponsoring mentor, evidence of institutional commitment, and the laboratory environment.
Brown’s project involves developing a model to improve understanding of how blood flow affects the cells that line human and animal intestines and the way in which these cells repair once blood flow is restored. Scientists are interested in this type of research in efforts to unlock the mysteries associated with ischemia/ reperfusion injury of the gut (much like a heart attack of the gut). Brown aims to speed up the cellular patching process that helps restore intestinal health. The process is just like healing of a skin wound, but needs to happen quickly before bacteria inside the gut can get into the body’s circulation.
Brown met Dr. Blikslager through an earlier science fair award that involved a tour of the CVM. This past school year Dr. Blikslager encouraged Brown to conduct further research in his laboratory and subsequently suggested she apply for the AGA Foundation award. The award, according to the AGA, reflects an ongoing priority to recruit the next wave of American scientists.
“We have common interests in horses and science,” says Dr. Blikslager, “and it became apparent during our initial work that Mary was a brilliant student who thinks and operates at an advanced college level. Mary’s intellect, desire to learn, and ability to perform high-level research are remarkable.”
A skilled rider and a member of the United States Pony Club, Brown plans to obtain DVM and PhD degrees and study equine health issues.
“Being chosen as a recipient of this fellowship is a great honor,” says Brown. “This will help me gain the experience and learn the techniques which will be invaluable to my aspiring career as a researcher of gastrointestinal disease. I’m very grateful to the AGA Foundation for this opportunity to study with Dr. Blikslager.”
Posted July 7, 2010