OSU med student spends summer as NIH research intern
Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Second-year OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine student Sachi Pathak wants to not only treat patients as a physician, but also find ways to cure their illnesses through research.
Her skills in a lab earned her a summer internship this year at the National Institutes of Health, where she was one of only 50 medical students from across the country accepted into the prestigious research internship program.
“Hanging up your white coat and putting on a lab coat can be beneficial,” Pathak said. “I love research. It forces you to have a critical eye, to look at the details. And look at things from different perspectives.”
Pathak’s love of research started when she was an undergrad at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a pre-med student working in a lab studying HIV. It was this research work that caught the eye of Dr. Rashmi Kaul, Ph.D. and professor of immunology at OSU Center for Health Sciences’ School of Biomedical Sciences.
Pathak moved to Tulsa in 2021 and enrolled in OSU-CHS’ Certificate in Medical Sciences program where Kaul mentored her while she worked in her lab. In 2022, Pathak was accepted to OSU-COM and started her first year as a medical student while also continuing to work in Dr. Kaul’s lab as a research student and mentee.
“Being in Dr. Kaul’s lab, I got to see other viral research into diseases like Hepatitis C,” she said, and she benefited from the mentorship. “Dr. Kaul is like another mother to me. I don’t have family here, so this community has become my family.”
“Hanging up your white coat and putting on a lab coat can be beneficial. I love research.
It forces you to have a critical eye, to look at the details. And look at things from
“Hanging up your white coat and putting on a lab coat can be beneficial. I love research. It forces you to have a critical eye, to look at the details. And look at things from different perspectives.”
Kaul said Pathak is her third research student to be accepted into NIH’s internship program.
“We provide solid mentoring at OSU. Something happens when mentoring. It’s like - I become the student. I see through their eyes, see what their strengths are, what are their weaknesses,” she said. “You instill confidence and inspiration in them.”
Pathak is grateful Kaul encouraged her to apply to the internship program at NIH and said it was surreal when she was accepted.
“I was super excited. I told Dr. Kaul first, even before my parents. I was thrilled,” she said, and over the summer she worked on HIV latency and therapeutics research. “The NIH was really exciting. It allowed me to explore more about a disease I’m interested in, I met wonderful people, and I had so much fun.”
Pathak continues to work on the research and findings from her NIH internship and from Dr. Kaul’s lab, both of which will lead to co-authorship on research papers and poster presentations in the future. And that’s on top of her medical school coursework.
“I do this because I truly care about it. I feel it makes me a more well-rounded student doctor and a more well-rounded researcher,” she said. “I’m becoming more comfortable asking questions. I’ve become more comfortable being wrong, but I’m learning from it all.”