Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

I work under the guidance of Dr. Jogesh Mukherjee in the Brain Imaging Center, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. The lab's primary research focus is the design, development and use of novel imaging agents for a new biomedical imaging technique, called positron emission tomography (PET). My research is on the serotonin receptor group, specifically the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor. Two years of work has led to the development of a novel imaging agent, 18F-Mefway, which is getting notable attention from the Nuclear Medicine community.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I first got into research at the end of my freshman year. After I e-mailed more than 100 professors, Dr. Mukherjee was willing to visit with me and discuss project possibilities. He also asked about my own research interests. That Summer, I started in the lab working on my own project.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

First, research has expanded my knowledge of chemistry, organic chemistry, radiochemistry, pharmaceuticals, and oncology to a level I am sure is not readily available from textbooks. Second, the skills I have learned in the lab, both the chemistry and the scientific method, will enhance my post-graduate studies in either the scientific or medical field. Lastly, my experiences have expanded my huge respect for the process of research, a process that is both timely and challenging.

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

In 2005, the Summer after my sophomore year, I attended my first scientific research conference, the Society of Nuclear Medicine's 52nd annual meeting, in Toronto, Canada. The conference annually attracts more than 5,000 professional attendees, and I was a part of the action. I had submitted, and been accepted to present, an abstract of my work at the Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Young Investigator Award Symposium. Of the seven finalists selected to present, I was the only undergraduate, and almost the only one from the United States. Amazingly, I was awarded first place and received $650 as an honorarium.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

While a career in research appeals more and more to me every day, my true joy comes from contact with patients, so I hope to continue on to medical school. An ideal situation would be a MD/PhD program, which would let me continue to pursue my passions both for science and for patients. Working in a lab to improve a patient treatment is amazing, but seeing a patient actually benefit from the advancements in research is even more exciting to me. I hope an MD/PhD program would also help me bring the latest technologies to my medical experiences.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

Find a lab whose research interests you, and stick with it. Spending more than one year in the same lab truly allows you to learn the ins and outs of research, and may give you the possibility of publishing (a huge learning experience on its own).

Past Researchers of the Month
2005
Dec. '05 Erin Curtis
Nov. '05 Elizabeth Black
Oct. '05 Chao Li
Sept. '05 Neil Saigal
Aug. '05 Evan Brown
Jul. '05 Dirk Groeneveld
Jun. '05 Alpay Dermenci
May '05 Eva Maria Rodriguez
Apr. '05 Christine Nyholm
Mar. '05 Erin Conn
Feb. '05 Nhu Vuong
Jan. '05 Jennifer Channual
  
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