Jianne De Raya | National Institute of Health Intern
What does it take to be a scientific researcher?
For Jianne De Raya, C’17, the answer is three words: curiosity, patience and passion.
That’s just one lesson she learned during a nine-week internship in the laboratories at the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). De Raya first became interested in researching diseases in high school, and her interest grew after she worked in the lab of Michael Turner, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry at the Mount.
We talked with Jianne a few weeks after her intership began.
Q: Describe the project you are working on.
A: My project is to highly purify and crystallize proteins that inhibit viral infections. Two of these proteins signal an antiviral response against viruses. The next steps are to refold, dialyze, and purify by molecular mass and charges. During these steps, I utilize instruments such as size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) and I also analyze the aggregation state of proteins using dynamic light scattering (DLS). My mentors and I discuss the various conditions necessary to optimize the purification yield of the protein and the crystallization results. At the beginning of my internship, I was worried the proteins would not crystallize in time, but after much trial and error, we are close to the results.
Q: Describe a typical day.
A: What I enjoy about my internship is that I do not have a typical day. There is always something new to learn! As I wait for the proteins to purify, I attend seminars and journal club meetings that give me an opportunity to enhance my knowledge about infectious diseases. Eminent scientists from around the world present seminars giving overviews of their exciting research. I also attend a weekly journal club led by two post-doctoral researchers who have done extensive research on malaria.
Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned so far?
A: Research is the epitome of curiosity, patience, and passion. Science is definitely challenging and requires a lot of patience, but this experience has instilled in me a stronger desire to keep learning.
Q: How will your internship impact your plans for the future?
A: I have always been eager to learn about diseases, but I did not know where to begin. I've had a myraid of opportunities so far at NIH to realize my interests. I'm learning to be inquisitive, to seize all the opportunities open to me and to make the best out of them, even if things do not go as planned.