Kinesiology major Kristen Berberich ('09) has been accepted into the competitive research training program for post-baccalaureate students (IRTA) at the National Institutes of Health.
This June, she will begin training in the newly-built Metabolic Clinical Research Unit at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders, a center which investigates the genetic and environmental causes of obesity.She will work side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. A position in this program is quite an honor, given that only 10% of applicants are accepted.
Kristen became interested in the problems of obesity and diabetes through the many physiology and health science courses she has taken in the Kinesiology department, including "Physiology of Obesity", "Science of Nutrition" and "Issues in Health", and by performing research in the Vascular Physiology Laboratory directed by Dr. Robin Looft-Wilson. Over the next 2 years, Kristen will be involved in both clinical and basic science research at the NIH, which she believes will help her decide whether to pursue a Ph.D. or an M.D. degree. "I'll be working on a project that compares the psychological, physiological, and genetic characteristics of lean and obese individuals, with the goal of understanding why people become obese. I'm also excited that I get to be a guinea pig for the study." Ultimately, the goal of this program is to attract promising students, provide them with valuable research training, and launch them into doctoral programs in biomedical research and/or medicine.