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Meet Kate Hayashigatani, Harvard Medical Research Assistant

Are you a STEM major interested in doing research who wants to know more about the experience before starting out? My friend Kate is currently assisting in research at Harvard Medical School as an undergraduate at Boston University. Unfortunately, her lab’s policy does not allow any pictures to be taken or shared, but we still got to hear about their current research and the role that Kate plays in it.

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Q: What does a typical day at your internship look like?

A: I start the day by Ubering from West Campus and going to the lab. I work in the Kelley Lab through Harvard Medical School, partnered with Brigham and Women’s Hospital. After getting situated at my desk, I pull out the necessary supplies to bring down to the animal facility, which consists of printed-out data sheets, pens, stickers, and my ID badge. I take the elevator down to the animal facility located in the basement of the building and have to scan to get into the changing facility where I put on a sanitized lab coat, and latex gloves. I also have to disinfect any materials I bring down into the facility such as my notebook, and the plastic bag I put my printed out data sheets and pens in. After I leave the changing room, I have to enter a passcode to enter the room where I complete my work and collect data to update the inventories. I have to turn on the fume hood, where I work with the mice, for a few minutes before I begin to pull mice cages from the racks. I then carry out my supervisors' requests, such as making new breeding cages, sending unneeded inventory to be exterminated, checking on the pregnancy of some mice, and weaning pups from their parents. After completing my duties I go into the changing room and take off my lab coat and gloves to be cleaned and disposed of and go back up to the lab to update the inventory/datasheets.   

Q: What are you currently researching?

A: My job consists of taking care of and supervising mice breeding in order for them to be studied for research in the immune mechanisms of muscular dystrophy, arthritis, and Lupus, to lessen symptoms for patients and further research pertaining to the immune system. I have to know the different strains of the mice studied, wean, and breed these mice for the projects studied in the Kelley lab.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your internship?

A: My favorite aspect of this job is learning about our immune system and being part of a large research project dedicated to helping others. Before this project, I didn’t know much about our immune system but by helping, I have learned the basics of how our immune system functions and the impact medical research potentially has to help others that suffer from immune system-based issues. I also love working with the mice, they are very cute, especially the pups.

Q: What is your least favorite thing about your internship?

A: My least favorite aspect of the job is the commute because I have to wait for an Uber, otherwise I would have to walk over 40 minutes each way, but the experience I am getting from working at the Kelley Lab makes it worth it. 

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Q: What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?

A: My biggest takeaway from working on this project is learning how intensive and long medical research really is. Every day we use products for our medical issues and take for granted how long they took to develop and the work and research that went into making them. Before this project, I had known that medical research took years, but through working at a research lab I think that I have gotten a better understanding of just how extensive the process is in terms of a day-to-day perspective. Every time I go into the lab I see other researchers working on their same project every day for hours. My trainer who taught me how to properly care for the mice had worked in the lab on a project for over two years. It is really interesting to see how dedicated they are to improving the quality of life for patients. 

I hope this article gave you a better insight into what it is like interning for a research lab! Thank you to Kate for sitting down for a Q&A. 

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Originally from NYC, Allie Longworth is a current sophomore at Boston University studying Health Science in hopes of one day becoming a pediatrician. Her hobbies include arts and crafts, marine biology, and cooking.
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