A twenty-year-old Turkish Cypriot student of neuroscience is spending the summer working at the Stanley Centre for Psychiatric Research, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“My work here at the Stanley Centre for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute focuses on the development of the pre-frontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in complex planning, complex cognitive behaviour, personality expression, decision-making, and moderating social behaviour.”
“Working on this project and learning from my supervisor, Matthew Johnson, Ph.D., senior staff scientist at the Broad Institute and the Stevens Lab, I have realised it is very crucial to know more about how this very important region of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is developing and refining over time, and what are the changes in specific synapses and neurons during adolescence.
“This is important because the prefrontal cortex is not only involved in diseases like schizophrenia, but also in Alzheimer’s disease as its connection to the hippocampus is a significant link to emotion and cognition.”
Explaining why he chose to continue his research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Ismail, who is an Ohio Wesleyan student said:
“Growing up with close family members who suffered from diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer, and seeing how many people are affected from such diseases and how problematic it is globally, I was highly motivated to jump into pursuing further research in the neuroscience-immunology area.”
Ismail began his studies at University College, London, he spent his second year at Ohio, Wesleyan. He said:
“I spent one and a half months working with neurologists and neurosurgeons on electrophysiological neuromonitoring during spinal tumour and scoliosis surgeries at Acıbadem Medical school of Istanbul. … For the next one and a half months, I interned at the University of Oxford/Eastern Mediterranean University to gather/process data for Women’s Health Research of North Cyprus.”
“Coming back to Ohio Wesleyan for my third-year studies, I have taken some advanced classes after which I realised along with neuroscience, I also have a great interest in computational science and genomics. At the same time, I have interned at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) as an undergraduate emergency medicine research assistant.
“My work at NCH involved gathering clinical research data in different units such as mental illnesses, neuroimaging, neurological diseases, and acute illnesses. Seeing how clinical medicine can be very limited in many circumstances, I further understood the significance of medical research toward expanding the limits of clinical medicine and solidified my goal of pursuing a research-oriented career in neurosciences.”
After he graduates, Ismail plans to enrol on a Ph.D. programme in neurosciences. He also wants to develop his interest in computational science and artificial intelligence.