Friday, May 6, 2016

URSP Student Naomi Coles Investigates the Effects that Childhood Obesity has on Bone Mineralization

My project is investigating the effects that childhood obesity has on bone mineralization. I did not come into research with a project in mind, I just knew that after my stepfather passed away of colorectal cancer my freshman year of college, that I wanted to know if I was interested enough in research to want to pursue finding ways to preventing colorectal cancer medically. It was after talking to my introduction to nutrition professor, Dr. Sina Gallo, about potential research opportunities that she informed me of this project where I could analyze data from her larger project to find out if childhood obesity has an effect on bone mineralization.

This project was instantly interesting to me as I am pursuing a career in medicine, in hopes of becoming a Pediatrician. Knowing that this project would allow me to exclusively evaluate data for children I knew that the results from this research could be beneficial for me when entering the medical field. In addition, being able to work on this project and carrying out the research process will allow me to evaluate how much interest I have in research and whether I can do clinical research on colorectal cancer and ways to prevent it in the future.

Throughout the semester, what I do on a weekly basis changes. At the beginning of my project, most of what I did involved preparing for data collection and collecting data. I would attain codes from a data source called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and from there use those codes, along with one of my mentors, to collect the data labeled under those codes. Currently, I am analyzing that data by categorizing the data in tables and running the appropriate statistical tests to obtain results. I mainly run the statistical tests when I meet with my mentors every couple of weeks, as they have the necessary program for the tests. During the time that I am not meeting with my mentors, I am analyzing the statistical results and writing up the results found. I also have begun writing my abstract and introduction, and I work on these aspects of my project weekly.

One thing that I discovered this week is that, based on the data collected from NHANES, that many children consume enough calcium but are not getting enough vitamin D. This is interesting as vitamin D is the necessary vitamin that allows absorption of the calcium, and other minerals, into the body.