Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

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

I work at the Beckman Laser Institute at the UCI School of Medicine under Dr. Albert Cerussi. Our lab focuses on the use and development of Near-Infrared (NIR) Diffuse Optical Spectroscopy (DOS), a novel medical imaging technique that can be used to non-invasively determine the chemical composition of tissue, based on the optical properties of molecules. This technique has been used by our lab to examine tissue variation between healthy and cancerous breast tissue, muscle tissue dynamics, and examination of myoglobin. The project that I have been working on for the past three years has focused on determining the oxidized and deoxidized forms of hemoglobin in relation to neonatal anemia in very low birth weight infants. Currently, we are trying to differentiate between adult and fetal isoforms of hemoglobin.

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

I first got involved in research the summer before my second year at UCI. I was very interested in becoming involved and e-mailed several professors to see if there was availability. After meeting with Dr. Cerussi, I immediately became interested in the research done at the Beckman Laser Institute. I was offered an interview and, after visiting the lab and seeing the exciting experiments that were in progress, I made every effort to learn more about the technology and research that was taking place. After several months of extensive training, Dr. Cerussi offered me the opportunity to work on the neonatal project. I have taken an active part in the project since that date, and am pleased to say that we have made significant progress. I hope to continue with this research until I graduate from UCI.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Research has been the medium through which I have been able to apply the knowledge I have acquired in the classroom. Much of my research has coincided with what I have learned in several of my classes here at UCI. Furthermore, I have been fortunate to be exposed both to clinical research, which has allowed me to examine the medical procedures and processes that take place in a clinical setting, and a behind-the-scenes look at what takes place in the design and innovation of new medical technology.

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

Although I don't have a single favorite experience from my research career, my experience with research as a whole has given me the ability take initiative and take part in developing a project from an idea. I have been fortunate to be involved with research that is highly innovative and still rather young. Under the supervision of Dr. Cerussi, I have been able to take part in the planning aspect of the research project. Over the summer, Dr. Cerussi and I came up with the idea testing our equipment for the specificity of determination between fetal and adult hemoglobin. After extensive research on testing procedures for the determination of fetal hemoglobin, we established a protocol to test our hypothesis. The ability to take part in such an experience has provided me with a sense of leadership and fulfillment that I would not have been able to obtain through passively learning in a classroom.

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

I would like to pursue a career in Pediatric Medicine, with an emphasis on international health policy and infectious disease. By becoming involved in medical research, I have furthered my personal interests by gaining work experience in the field. Nearly three years of dedicated and productive research have given me a deep appreciation and understanding of the intellectual aspect of the medicine, and I know I will carry this with me through my endeavors. My years of research experience, combined with clinical volunteering, have shaped an unwavering dedication to medicine in me.

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

Be persistent. Research is often challenging and frustrating; however, persistence surely pays off. Instead of giving up, keep at it and be diligent at whatever you are doing. Many times, the results you obtain are not the ones that you were initially going for. Instead of rejecting these, be accommodating. Just because something does not go the way you planned, does not necessarily mean that it is a bad thing.

Past Researchers of the Month
Dec. '06 Megan Trotter
Nov. '06 Allison Zemek
Oct. '06 Jeremy Roth
Sept. '06 Crystal Wang
Aug. '06 Michael Thompson
Jul. '06 Kimberly Balazs
Jun. '06 Joseph Boufadel
May '06 Vicky Zhou
Apr. '06 Jessica Morreale
Mar. '06 Talinn Toorian
Feb. '06 Vivek Mehta
Jan. '06 Pernille Hemmer
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