Working in a neuroimaging lab is fascinating

I did my first exposure today in my OCD-intensive program, which surprisingly went very well, but I feel like I should blog about the lab I’m working in.

About a week or two ago, I started working in a neuroimaging lab at Washington University Medical school as a Research Tech for my summer job before college starts! I can’t give out a lot of specifics about what I do at the lab because of HIPPA laws, but I do know what info is OK to say and what is not.

Basically, I’m working on a study that focuses on kids who have just started ticcing. The study preforms clinical evaluations, has each patient’s parent fill out questionnaires about their child’s tic symptoms and related symptoms, does sophisticated brain imaging on the child (an MRI), then follows the child for one year to determine if the tics persist or go away.

It studies children at risk for developing Tourette Syndrome or chronic tic disorders. Why do some children’s tics go away and why do some children’s tics persist? That is what the study hopes to investigate further. It’s a very fascinating study, and I am so overjoyed to be involved with it!!!

If you want to read more about the study, or want to find out how your child can get involved if you are from the St. Louis area, you can follow this link to view an article on the study: http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/21688.aspx.

So anyway, what I have been doing is working 10 to 15 hours in the lab on this study with the study’s coordinators, Dr. B and Dr. G — both of whom I’ve developed relationships with over the past year or so even before I started working on the study. They both helped me out when I was making my Tourette documentary, and then when I inquired about helping out in the lab they were more than happy to give me a position as a summer job before college.

I’ve been doing lots to help out, and I feel very useful in the lab, so that’s always good.

Best thing of all, I don’t have to feel too self-conscious about my tics! Even my new and fairly noticeable grunting/coughing tic doesn’t even rate a second glace in the lab when I’m working with Dr. G and Dr. B. Of course, I appreciate this, when out in the real world on some days I frequently can get stares and questions.

So far working in the lab has been great! I’ve even gotten to observe some parts of the real study with the kids, which for me has been one of the best parts because I really feel like part of the team (or at least a college student getting to observe real research, that is).

After working in the lab, I really feel like I want to do more research in my future and maybe even become a postdoctoral fellow (like Dr. G), make a real career out of neuro research and maybe teach at the university level as well so my research can be funded :) Maybe I have found my passion/life’s work. We’ll see.



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