Summer Centered: Jharna Jahnavi ’19 Has a Career in Medicine on the Brain
The pre-med biology major, who also minors in neuroscience and health studies, is exploring the world of clinical research in the division of neurology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this summer.
For Jharna Jahnavi ’19, working as a clinical research intern at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is a direct extension of her academic interests and another step on her path to a career in medicine.
A pre-med biology major with minors in neuroscience and health studies, the rising senior is getting hands-on experience in CHOP’s division of neurology with support from the Marian E. Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center.
"Working in the division of neurology relates to my deeper interest in neuroscience and brain development,” she said. “At Haverford, I run a social-skills building group for children with different needs and many of the study subjects or patients I interact with at my internship have these different needs.”
Jahnavi’s coursework at Haverford encompasses departments not just across the sciences, but also across the liberal arts, and she finds the lab environment to be similarly multifaceted.
"My fascination and continued interest with this lab is how incredibly interdisciplinary our work is,” she said. “I have worked not only with neurologists, neurosurgeons, cardiothoracic surgeons, and other healthcare professionals, but also with post-doc physicists, computer scientists, medical students, and other undergraduates.”
Though every day is different in the lab, Jahnavi usually spends her days on the job, from noon to midnight, analyzing data from studies she has helped to conduct.
"The lab itself is a neurovascular imaging lab that looks at cerebral hemodynamics using biomedical optics,” said Jahnavi. “Essentially, this means that we use near-infrared lasers to detect the oxygenation and blood flow in the brain.”
A large part of Jahnavi’s work is helping take measurements on subjects for the various studies in the lab and gathering data to be analyzed in the future. In addition, she conducts some of her own experiments which focus on ways to improve instrument specificity and refine data acquisition and analysis.
"I hope to not only achieve more exposure to healthcare and medical professions, but also learn how a clinical research lab works,” she said. “Furthermore, I hope to develop my professional skills in preparation for my nearing entrance into the adult world. I also hope that this work experience will help me find jobs after graduation before I attend medical school.”
After graduation, Jahnavi plans to return to clinical research work for a few years before heading off to medical school, where she hopes to continue her engagement with research in some capacity.
“Before this internship, I wasn’t sure if this was the path for me but my experience has really been incredible, and I can’t wait to be a part of this field,” she said.