When I first started my college career, the thought of doing scientific research made my skin crawl. It was a scary and an unfamiliar topic. The deal I made with myself was that I’d go to class, get involved in a few clubs, and volunteer at a hospital. Research was not for me; I was not planning on becoming a scientific researcher. And quite frankly, the thought of spending hours with a petri dish or a microscope petrified me. I’m a social person, I want to interact with people in a clinical setting and I thought research could not offer me that experience.
During the fall semester of my junior year, I was offered an opportunity to do a research project on personalized medicine. I was interested because, to me, personalized medicine is modern medicine. It’s the logical approach for preventative medicine and creating a healthy society. So, I decided to attend the interest meeting. Once I got there, papers were signed and I got paired up with another student for the project. As we both walked away, confused as to what just happened, we realized that we were embarking on a new way of learning requiring a lot of self-discipline, passion, and patience.
That weekend I sat in front of my computer and started to Google scientific research papers regarding personalized medicine. My head started to spin! What do I look at? What is a reliable source? What do I even type into the search engine?
Several hours passed by until I found an article that gave me an introduction to what I thought I was going to work on. My partner and I had a graduate student who helped guide our train of thought. Every Monday after my morning class I would leave campus to drive over to the clinic I was assigned to. I dragged my heavy binder with around 40 different articles along with my heavy backpack filled with books. My friends thought I was going mad and, quite frankly, I was convinced that I was, too. I would sit in the clinic’s office kitchen and draw concept maps and answer questions for hours. It was a painful process. There were days when I was not sure why I was putting myself through so much pressure, doing something that I swore I would never get involved in.
My project required a genetic component, so I was fortunate to get a “23andMe”—a genetic kit that maps out the human genome. When I received my results, I looked at the genes I was researching and I became my own “patient.” I started to apply personalized medicine into my own, everyday life, in addition to the academic skills I was gathering.
As summer came around and the topic started to click for me, I fell in love with my thesis. Every time I would read a new research paper pertaining to my subject, my heart would skip a beat. My patience grew into passion and, just like that, I fell in love with what I’d hated the most. My predisposed outlook on research was flawed, so I’m glad that, although I was biased about it, I still took the leap of faith. I started to realize that everyday life is full of research that comes in every shape and form, even if it isn’t scientific. A simple question can be turned into an elaborate quest to seek how things work in the universe and inside our body. There is something special about doing research that it brings out the inner child in you that wants to know more, and why, and how.
Sometimes we get caught up with learning from textbooks and lectures but forget to make connections and ask questions about our surroundings. Medicine is a constantly changing field, and doing research helps in executing the most effective treatment for a patient.
About Yasamin Rahmani
Yasamin Rahmani is an undergraduate student and a peer mentor at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Biology, and aspires to become an Emergency Physician. Yasamin’s parents are immigrants from Kabul, Afghanistan, and, after spending a small portion of time in Tashkent, she moved with her family to Moscow where she spent majority of her childhood. At the age of ten Yasamin moved to the United States, where her affinity for the field of medicine came to fruition. While moving from country to country, Yasamin refined her language skills and is fluent in Farsi, French and Russian. Aside from her passion for medicine, Yasamin takes part in cultural understanding and historical research about Afghanistan. Some of her publications include co-authoring Afghan Proverbs Illustrated Russian-Dari, from which all profits are donated to literacy courses in Afghanistan, as well as co-editing Art through the Ages in Afghanistan. Yasamin hopes to use her diverse background and her love of medicine as tools in the rapid globalization of the field medicine. During her free time, Yasamin significantly enjoys writing, dancing, volunteering and being involved in philanthropy projects.