Through his MISTI internship in the “other Cambridge”, Aman Patel used computational techniques to explore fundamental questions behind human autoimmune diseases.
Aman Patel in front of one of the UK's many historical sites.

The human body is very effective at defending itself from outside invaders. But what about defending from itself? A series of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, pose an entirely different problem altogether. At the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, one of Europe’s largest molecular biology research centers, Aman used sequence data to study regulatory T cells, essential players in the prevention of such diseases. Specifically, Aman combined data from his research group at Sanger with data from one of Europe’s largest genomics datasets to compare the efficacy of several experimental methods in regulatory T cell sequencing. Aman’s analysis also served to determine relationships between regulatory T cells and other immune cells. The figures he produced are to be used in an upcoming publication, which would be the first of Aman’s scientific career.

The Past and the Future

As someone who loves to read about history, Aman had always viewed England as a dream destination. It certainly did not disappoint. From prehistoric Stonehenge to Roman ruins to great gothic cathedrals and medieval castles, he had a blast traveling far and wide throughout the country in search of historical landmarks. Aman also felt that the major juxtaposition of his time in England - between appreciating the past and preserving the future of humanity through biomedical research – was especially powerful and appealing.

Connections to Last a Lifetime

One of the things that struck Aman about the Sanger Institute (besides the free bus service and excellent, heavily subsidized food) was the cultural diversity of the institute. Due to the institute’s prestige and the close proximity of the UK to other European countries, the Sanger is home to a veritable melting pot of nationalities and ideas. In fact, Aman’s group consisted of three Poles (including the group leader), one Serbian, one Greek, one Spaniard, one German, one Mexican, and surprisingly only one person from England. Meeting people from so many disparate areas was truly a highlight of his experience in the UK, and Aman believes the various perspectives and ideas each group member contributed served to greatly enhance our research. Regardless of all our differences, the group became like a family to him. The work was fun, but the people made the experience special.

I couldn’t have asked for a better summer experience than my time in the UK. In my work, I learned several new skills and made a contribution to a publication. On my own time, I perused the fascinating history and culture of England. I have made friendships, memories, and connections that will last a lifetime, all the while moving my career forward.

  • United Kingdom
  • Internship
  • Bio/Chem