2019 Ralph Jones Pre-Medical Summer Research Fellowship Recipient: Cameron Skaggs
One of five 2019 Ralph R. Jones, MD, FACS Pre-Medical Fellowship recipients was Cameron Skaggs, pre-medical health science student in the School of Public and Population Health. Skaggs studied in the lab of Kristen Mitchell, associate professor for the Department of Biological Sciences. Skaggs worked alongside Mitchell to assist on a research project surrounding chronic liver disease.
Skaggs was immersed in a project in which he focused on liver fibrosis which results in liver tissue death. This is caused by an injury to the liver that can be triggered by alcoholism, hepatitis and more.
During his research study, Skaggs worked to find a therapeutic target that could later be turned into a pharmaceutical drug that would ultimately treat liver fibrosis.
Throughout this study, Skaggs learned many new technologies and skills. One of the most popular included the use of a technology called CRISPR-Cas9 which can be used to edit the genome, or DNA of cells. As Skaggs explained, “We used this technology to remove the gene of interest which then allowed us to mimic the effects of introducing a pharmaceutical treatment. If the cells show promising results after removing the gene, that meant there was potential for a future pharmaceutical drug to target the gene’s protein and then to repair the liver.”
“This opportunity was both very humbling and eye-opening for me,” said Skaggs. “It was amazing to be able to work in a lab and understand how medicine and healthcare works behind the scenes. I learned numerous new skills, how to persevere through failure, and how to break through barriers. Overall, it was a truly outstanding opportunity that is far more rewarding than just checking off a box for medical school. I am so thankful that the Ralph Jones fellowship provided me with an experience that I will take with me far into my academic and professional career.”
–By Taylor Music