While many 16- or 17-year-olds may have been playing a sport, working a job, or relaxing while the world reopened this past summer, Gahanna-Lincoln High School rising senior Edna Boadi was busy paving the way for her future behind a rare professional experience. Boadi was selected as one of six high school students to participate in the Futures Matter program at Nationwide Children's Hospital, an eight-week paid summer research internship, allowing students to gain hands-on science experience while exploring various careers in biomedical research.
Boadi was paired with two research coordinators and statistician Enas Alshaikh, Ph.D. and embarked on a project centered around Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in infants. If you needed to search WebMD for a better understanding, you're not alone. GERD (or GER) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting the mouth and stomach. This acid reflux can irritate the lining of the esophagus. Boadi explained that her research explored, "whether bradycardia (a lower than normal heart rate) and tachycardia (higher than normal heart rate) should be considered legitimate symptoms of GERD and whether the reflux type and bolus size of the reflux had an effect on the heart rate response to these reflux events."
The first phase of her experience was to create a presentation on GERD and other critical elements of the disorder and then hypothesize whether bradycardia is a direct symptom of GERD. Boadi learned new software to help conduct experiments and record her findings. In all, Boadi analyzed 48 studies and did 1,557 total infusion procedures to accumulate enough data for her presentation. Her research continued as she learned about the complexities of the disease, its diagnosis, and its treatment. The experience was also accompanied by the opportunity to shadow lab nurses conducting various studies surrounding GERD.
The opportunities continued to grow as Boadi was granted the chance to shadow Dr. Sudarshan Jadcherla and Erika Osborn, NNP, during patient consults, giving her first-hand exposure with live patients.
Upon presenting her research on GERD, Boadi was graded on her work and earned first place for presenting her findings in a competition among those selected for the Future Matters program.
Boadi is a senior in the Eastland-Fairfield Bioscience satellite program, housed at Gahanna-Lincoln High School.
"Before this experience, I thought practicing medicine and conducting research were mutually exclusive. Considering that I love both, I believed that I would have to inevitably choose one path to pursue as a career. I now know that it's possible for me to have a career where I can conduct research, while also caring for patients. Moreover, I learned about how people with different career backgrounds can all contribute to research. My lab was comprised of a doctor, a nurse practitioner, research coordinators, a statistician, nurses, research assistants, and an administrator. I was amazed when I learned about all the different paths my lab members took to get involved in research and realized that there's no concrete path to be involved in research and have your research impact the scientific community. I am grateful for the Jadcherla Lab's enthusiasm to teach me about the nitty-gritty aspects of research and will continue to cherish my summer with them forever as I continue my journey as an aspiring physician-scientist!" -- Edna Boadi