Bright Future by Saja Zidan

June 12, 2017, this was the day I was about to embark on one of the most fulfilling learning experiences of my life. After meeting my mentor that day, Dr. Ping Zhou, I was officially able to do the biggest task I have ever done, stem cell research.

From this internship I have acquired many skills that I did not think was possible to obtain as a high school student. However, I was proven wrong after spending countless hours on the bench and in the tissue culture room. Culturing cells, changing media, pipetting, plating mouse embryonic fibroblasts, passaging hemophilia cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, these were techniques I was able to learn by the second week! Each week these skills were strengthened and all the fear of messing up disappeared.

SajaZidan_microscopeOne of the most rewarding experiences from this internship was watching my cells grow. After changing media and tracking their growth under the microscope, I felt like I was making a difference in the world. I could not help but smile each time I looked at them through the microscope and saw little happy cells. Who knew that these really tiny cells have the ability to change the world for the better?!

I would not have understood the impact these cells can have on the world or know what I was even doing in the lab if it wasn’t for my stem cells course that was taught by Dr. Gerhard Bauer. Through this class I was able to learn about the world of stem cells on a much deeper level, which inspired me to explore more careers in the field of regenerative medicine. The class also helped me feel more confident about presenting my research project about the differentiation of induced pluripotent cells to smooth muscle cells because I had more background information.

I can’t thank everyone at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Medicine enough for allowing me to participate in the SPARK program. May the future of stem cells continue to be bright!

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