Reflection by: Mahesh Krishna, Biochemistry and Cell Biology & Policy Studies '20
Thanks to the funding of the Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program and the Social Sciences Gateway Program, I was able to travel and present my research at the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) conference in Hollywood, Florida!
My personal experiences have pushed me to purse research related to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a chronic, autoimmune disease affecting the gastrointestinal system. I have worked in the lab of Dr. Richard Kellermayer at Baylor, a brilliant pediatric gastroenterologist, who has been vital in my development as a researcher by giving me independence. The project that I presented was related to demographics of pediatric IBD in the Houston area. Dr. Kellermayer allowed me to decide how to address this question and to find the resources for a geographical study of the disease. I learned how to use Geographical Information System (GIS) to analyze our patient cohort and we actually found that a larger median household income in a ZIP code was correlated to higher pediatric IBD incidence. We believe that our research will be important in gaining a better understanding of IBD, especially in the Houston area, that will improve care of pediatric patients.
Dr. Kellermayer has also trusted me with writing two manuscripts as a first author on our research and to present our research at symposiums, including at NASPGHAN. In fact, he relied on me to explain his poster since he had a meeting during his presentation time. The independence that Dr. Kellermayer has given me has allowed me to grow as a researcher and person. At the conference, I had informative conversations with many doctors about our research and learned new ways we could approach the problem. As an aspiring pediatric gastroenterologist, the NASPGHAN conference was a great place for early exposure to my field of interest as well as learning the innovative GI research in progress!