Texas Heart Hosts Interns from Around the World

Texas Heart Institute (THI) is committed to giving back to the community through a number of educational outreach events and activities throughout the year. We believe it is our responsibility to leverage the knowledge and talents of our scientists, biologists, physicians, engineers, chemists, statisticians, and other medical and technical professionals to not only educate the community about the importance of heart health, but to help train and prepare the next generation of professionals for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Every summer, the Texas Heart Institute provides students with unique educational opportunities including observerships, internships and volunteering. The summer of 2017 brought over 60 high school, undergraduate and graduate student interns from all over the country. 

Interns work in various capacities throughout THI and support a number of research departments, including Regenerative Medicine Research, the Women’s Center and Molecular Cardiology.

2017 Summer Intern Spotlights

Saloni Pramodjain
SRM University, Chennai
Molecular Cardiology Department Semester Abroad Program (SAP) 2017

“I always had passion for science and it especially fascinates me seeing it applied in the laboratory. This past summer, I seized an opportunity to pursue my interest in molecular biology through a semester abroad program provided by my university. During my research training and volunteering at Texas Heart Institute, I was fortunate enough to gain some hands-on experience through which I learned many different sides of what goes into a project, and the general process of how a project is initially planned, developed and completed. Reflecting on my time at THI, I walked in with great enthusiasm and left as an experienced person. Our supervisor welcomed us warmly and everyone was very open and always encouraged me to contribute as much as I wanted to. This instantly made me feel comfortable. The first week was very informative and I was overwhelmed by the work and responsibilities that were given to me. Moreover with the help of my guide and other supervisors who have had years of experience, I felt even more confident and supported as they were there with me every step of the way, guiding and mentoring me throughout. By observing and learning from them, I managed to pick up tips and learned numerous skills. As my time progressed at the Institute, so did my capabilities. I grew more confident in doing the tasks which I was being asked to perform.  In conclusion, I would say my training has taught me many beneficial things: to always have an open mind, be willing to work in any type of environment, adapt to a new work place, and teamwork. What I have learned in the span of less than six months will always be a big part of my growth. I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned and further applying it. I’d like to thank THI and the team for providing me with this wonderful experience.”

Franklina Tsiboe
Texas Southern University Health Administration Student
Center for Women’s Heart & Vascular Health Summer Intern 2017

“I graduated from Deer Park High School in 2014 and I am currently a senior at Texas Southern University.  I was a pre-pharmacy major in the beginning but then I realized it wasn’t for me after I took organic chemistry. Even though I passed it with an A, I learned that I was not really interested in pharmacy after all. After a bit of soul searching, I decided to switch my major to Health Administration. I absolutely love planning most anything, bringing people together, and incorporating my creative ideas to any project which led me to choosing Health Administration as my major.  When my program director at Texas Southern University, Mrs. Jennifer Williams, told me about the volunteer opportunity, I went for it and met the amazing Mrs. Keri Sprung who took me on and taught me a lot.  Before I came here, I was not familiar with molecular cardiology, stem cells or regenerative medicine and how it related to heart disease— an issue that is very close to me because it is a big concern in our nation today. Although there was a lot of chemistry and lab work going on all around me at THI, I realized the lab work at school was very different compared to the lab work that goes on here. I would say it is more “real life” and it has been eye opening to be exposed to the real world applications of science.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to be exposed right before graduation. My experience helped me understand how my college studies are relevant to my future. Prior to these internships, I did not have any previous experience related to my chosen major outside of school and I am so grateful to have had this phenomenal opportunity to experience.”

Fatema Yusuf
SRM University, Chennai
Molecular Cardiology Department Semester Abroad Program (SAP) 2017

“My experience at THI is one the most glorious ones that I’ve had in my life. We started off our program during the month of January during which Houston’s weather is pretty cooperative and lovely—not too hot or humid— making it all the more memorable. Houston is a very well connected city in terms of public transportation and we were able to visit and explore quite a few places of touristic attraction in the city like the Buffalo Bayou, the Miller Theatre and Discovery Green Park. I worked at the department of molecular cardiology under the guidance of Dr. Deen Bakthavatsalam. I was fortunate enough to have assisted him in many of the experiments that he himself carried out. He was also kind enough to let me observe not just his wet lab work but also in the dry lab where he taught me new techniques. He would let me try my hand at some of the more advanced techniques just so that I could work on my own skills for the future. One of the best things about Deen was that he would never give me a direct answer and would always let me think and work on my own.  During the initial months, I was able to assist Anna Kazansky on many of the protocols that she carried out. This helped me because it laid a foundation for my work at THI and acclimated me with how, where and when things are done in the lab. I was already used to the basics of the lab. Aside from the academic work that we did, it was also very delightful to be a party of several events that took place outside of work including the BioHouston Chili Cook Off, which helped me realize the importance networking plays in building a career. I also got to attend quite a few seminars delivered by eminent personalities from the fields of medicine, genetics and bioinformatics.  One of the many fun and satisfying things I did during the semester abroad was volunteer at the Girls Scouts program that THI conducts annually to highlight the importance of maintaining of a healthy heart. My work period at THI was indeed one of the best times of my life because it molded me into the more refined person that I am today.”