“The work that I have done this summer was a valuable experience,” said Caitlin Schulz, who is a biology major at Indiana University.
Schulz worked with Mark Heiman, PhD, the chief scientific officer for Scioto Biosciences. They planned three large experiments about the gastrointestinal microbiome together during the summer.
“Caitlin was assigned an important role for each,” said Heiman, who spent his second summer as a mentor. “The entire team enjoyed working with her and together we celebrated several novel research findings.”
The ICBI supports the development of life science technology and encourages entrepreneurs to commercialize those innovations. The group provides laboratory and collaborative space, while also offering advice and guidance for faculty, students and startups. The ICBI is made possible through support from Indiana CTSI, IU School of Medicine and IU Health.
Through the internship program, students work with ICBI faculty and startup companies on biomedical research projects and participate in development of a new drug or device. Schulz says she learned many skills she wouldn’t have been able to master in school, such as bomb calorimetry, testing for short chain fatty acids on the gas chromatography-mass spectrometry machine and understanding the gut-brain axis.
“I got to learn how to run many different tests and work many different machines,” said Schulz. “I also liked how I was given a lot of responsibilities and really felt like a part of the research team this summer. Everyone that I worked with was helpful when I had questions and would take extra time to not only explain to me how to do something, but why and the importance of the things we were testing for.”
Maria Witcher, who is a biology major at IUPUI, also participated in the ICBI summer internship program. She says she would recommend it to other students because she stayed busy in the lab, but could still enjoy the summer because of the flexible setting.
“It’s definitely taught me that research is a long process of redoing, retrials and getting it right,” said Witcher. “It’s always ongoing and always investigating new avenues of each experimental question.”
Witcher’s mentor, Francis Enane, PhD, is a fellow at ICBI. He says Witcher learned very quickly, as she investigated whether certain drugs could be developed into new therapies for treating breast cancer.
“She has been a great personality to have in the laboratory, in terms of being dedicated to the project and trying to understand how to get it to work,” said Enane. “I think she’s generated some very good data that is going to be used in the project, so it was great to work with her.”
Enane started working with ICBI last October, so this was his first summer taking part in the internship program.
“Through all my training, I’ve had great mentors that helped me a lot,” said Enane. “Anytime I have an opportunity to provide mentorship, I’d like to do that.”