Human Physiology Student Uses Summer Break for Research

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Human Physiology Major Paige Parrack

For many college students, summer means lazy days spent reading, traveling or simply enjoying time away from school. But instead of whiling away the hours, Sargent’s Paige Parrack sharpened her research skills as a Presidential Scholar at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) in Oklahoma City.

“Before this summer, I vaguely knew about osteoarthritis, but within a few weeks, I needed to learn a wide range of material,” Parrack said. “This summer has been amazing so far, and I’m incredibly excited to see where this research is headed.”

A junior human physiology major, Parrack has spent her summer working in OMRF’s Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program with researcher Tim Griffin, Ph.D. In the lab, Parrack studies how an ion channel, TRPA1, affects pain behavior in osteoarthritis.

Her experience at OMRF has served as an introduction to medical research, Parrack said, and has inspired her to pursue related fields in the future. “I would like to enroll in an MD/ PhD program,” she said. “I’ve fallen in love with both medicine and research and believe that an M.D./Ph.D. degree is the best program for me to address both of these topics.”

In addition to working in the lab, Presidential Scholars attend lectures by OMRF scientists to learn about various research projects and science-related career options. They attend social events and spend time together as a group outside the lab. At the end of the eight weeks on July 26, scholars will make formal presentations outlining their individual research results to OMRF’s scientists.

“These programs provides a glimpse of cutting-edge science to these students at a crucial point in their academic careers,” said OMRF president Stephen Prescott, M.D. “It’s a way for our scientists to share the world of medical research with bright, young minds who, we hope, will join the battle against human disease.”