Daphne Superville has been conducting cancer research since her junior year in high school. While she decided to join MISTI to improve her proficiency in a foreign language, she was also interested in researching a new topic.
I REALLY ENJOYED BEING ABLE TO CONDUCT RESEARCH THAT WAS DIRECTLY RELEVANT TO PATIENTS BEING TREATED IN HOSPITAL CLINIC. MY MISTI INTERNSHIP ALLOWED ME TO EXPLORE A NEW AVENUE IN BIOLOGY WHILE ALSO EXPERIENCING SPANISH CULTURE.
At the University of Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic, Daphne joined the Department of Systemic Autoimmune Diseases where her project focused on identifying which, if any, polymorphisms (variations in a gene) in the CD5 gene correlated to worse symptoms in Sjogren’s Syndrome. Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease characterized by dry eyes and mouth. Daphne would pick up blood samples from patients being treated in the hospital for Sjogren’s Syndrome on a weekly basis and use their DNA to test for which polymorphism they had. That information was then traced back to clinical observations on the severity of their symptoms made by her supervisor.
Environmental Factors of Disease
Daphne’s second project aimed to collect large amounts of epidemiological data on sarcoidosis patients to see what environmental factors may have contributed to the onset of the disease. Sarcoidosis is a granulomatous systemic autoimmune disease characterized by lumps of inflammatory cells. There is no known cause of sarcoidosis which is why Daphne and the Systemic Autoimmune Disease Lab were so interested in seeing if any environmental factors played a role. Daphne researched articles that were available on PubMed and included more than 100 sarcoidosis patients (for statistical significance). She then looked through all of the articles for key epidemiological data, such as race, gender, clinical observations, city and country, among others.
In addition to exploring a new career path, Daphne was also able to co-author two papers. “Not only did I complete the project I was originally assigned, but I was also given an additional project to work on – both of which will be published,” she shares. “I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”