When you first think of immunology research, your next thought is not usually “how are we going to get nasal scrapings?” Then again, most people have not interned in a lab that studies mucus on a daily basis. Our passion for this project began in the Rubin Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems this past summer. It was there were we learned that neutrophils are the type of cell the body produces to attack viruses and bacteria.
The common cold accounts for millions of days of work lost, health care visits, lost productivity, antibiotics, and over-the-counter medications. With this in mind, we questioned why more research has not been done on the common cold? There has been no research stating that the more severe the cold, the higher the neutrophil frequency. How can researchers use neutrophil frequencies as a measurement for different diseases if this concrete question has not been answered? This has led us to our project titled: The Severity of Acute Rhinosinusitis (ARS) on the Frequency of Neutrophils present in a Nasal Smear of Patients with and without Over-The-Counter Cold or Sinus
Collaborations has been the essence to our project! The Biomedical Engineering Department is providing us a lab through which we will be conducting our research, the Biology Department is providing us with continuous education on our project, and the Rubin lab is providing continuous support for our projects growth. With these key figures in place, we are almost ready to begin our research! Through the next few months, we will be consenting participants to volunteer in our study. We will be obtaining nasal smears from them at different times of the illness and then analyzing the neutrophil frequencies. We will also be comparing patients who are not taking any medications to those taking a few select over-the-counter medications.
Our project has definitely had some setbacks the last few weeks, however, this is research. No matter how organized we have been, our timeline has changed. When these difficulties arise, we have to remind ourselves as to why we are trying to conduct this work in the first place. We believe that this project could affect the medical community and therefore impact what we may do as hopeful physicians. Even if our work does not turn out how we hope, it will still have given us an opportunity that will only enhance our education and views as we aim for careers in medicine. Now that, hopefully, all of our business work is complete, we are moving away from the business side and towards the science! See you in the clinic!