Badger in lab
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SIU medical student working with NIH scientists in Washington

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Third-year medical student Taylor Badger has embarked upon a unique learning opportunity that adds a year of intensive research experience to her medical school curriculum at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. This spring she was awarded a position in the National Institutes of Health’s Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) class of 2022-23. She moved from her home in Springfield to the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, to begin a year-long mentored research experience.

The prestigious training is awarded to 50 candidates selected from among the top U.S. medical schools. The students receive robust mentored training and conduct research in areas that match their personal interests and career goals. Badger will use the time to expand her biomedical science knowledge and gain skills in becoming a clinician-scientist in the field of obstetrics and gynecology.

Each scholar works with an advisor who provides guidance on creating a career development plan and on selecting an NIH research mentor. Mentors are full-time NIH investigators with basic, clinical or translational research programs. Badger is working with Dr. Veronica Gomez-Lobo, director of pediatric and adolescent gynecology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, on a project to preserve fertility in young girls undergoing chemotherapy.

Taylor BadgerBadger is enthusiastic about a return to one of her passions. “I have always loved my experiences in research, going back to 2017 when I was a Simmons Cancer Institute summer intern,” she said. “Finding enough time to pursue it as a medical student was a challenge, so I was intrigued when Dr. [Rik] Constance emailed our class about MRSP.”

“This gives me dedicated research time at a great institution, as well as career development opportunities. There are many great courses and classes that I can take this year on top of my research to help develop skills for my career,” she said.

During the academic year, the scholars are participating in journal clubs, a seminar series with invited speakers that includes both distinguished senior investigators and early-mid career clinician-scientists, and clinical teaching rounds. They can also present their research to the NIH community and at national professional conferences.

Badger’s days are full. In addition to work on her main research project, she is assisting on other studies, taking a scientific writing course and learning about the publication process. She is also gaining a healthy perspective on work-life balance.

“There’s so much to do in the DC area: beautiful areas to hike and explore and a food scene like no other. It's been a blast to meet other medical students in the program and discover all that Washington has to offer. I’m also looking forward to hosting a few friends and family members who plan to visit throughout the fall,” she said. “I can already tell the year is going to go by way too fast.”

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