Monday, September 24, 2018

OSCAR Student Brieann Sobieski Works with the Summer Impact on Relevant Biomarkers in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

As an aspiring physician and educator, research is a fundamental part of my career choice. Research is a vessel to impact change on a large scale. It is more than performing experiments and analyzing results. Research allows our world to continue to advance, as the field of medicine strives to provide the best possible outcomes to the lives of many every single day.

I believe that the OSCAR Summer Impact Grant for relevant biomarkers in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis has challenged me to explore creative ways to impact the world through research. In the biology aspect of the research project, I analyzed gene expression levels of mitochondrial genes in 18 idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients. The use of mitochondrial copy number as a method to separate patients in analysis has shown novel findings in cancer research. While many of the results were puzzling when referring back to the progression of their disease, it is fulfilling to know these findings may impact a future clinical intervention.

This project has created a strong passion in me for precision medicine. There is a vast knowledge of clinical data available in the form of large data sets. As the production of these data sets of patients is on the rise, it necessitates new software available to researchers and clinicians to be able to analyze the data. My team and I also helped create a tool to analyze large data sets and output significant information. This will help not only discovery novel findings in IPF, but will be openly available to any researcher or clinician working on another disease. While our primary focus is on lung disease, our contribution to medicine will span to all other diseases as well.

Aside from the importance of innovative software, it is also important to teach students how to analyze data. During the course of this summer, I worked to design an undergraduate course to teach RNA-sequencing. This kind of education is competitive experience for undergraduates to learn as precision medicine is on the rise. I am hoping this course will impact the student body at Mason and cause my fellow undergraduate peers to become excited to utilize their new skills in the future of clinical care.

I have seen first-hand the impact that I can create as a student now, and as a physician-researcher later down the line. There are so many ideas I have floating through my head, and the OSCAR Summer Impact Grant has solidified the skills that I need to bring those ideas to fruition.

Presenting at the Virginia Academy of Science (VAS) was an amazing experience! I was able to meet with leading researchers in science ranging from medical sciences to conservation at universities across Virginia. Every year, there is one scholarship given to undergraduate researchers at each Virginia university for a total of 11 scholarships. 

I was the recipient of the VAS Marion Lobstein Scholarship exclusive to George Mason University for my research in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in collaboration with INOVA advanced lung disease and transplant program last Fall. After giving my presentation on novel lung tissue isolation at the meeting, I received the award for the top undergraduate poster at the conference. Pictured is Marion Lobstein (donor of the scholarship) and I during my poster presentation.