Human Science Senior Interns at National Institutes of Health, Plans Medical Career

JULY 9, 2015 – Robert Iannaccone (NHS’16) says his experiences at Georgetown have been incredibly diverse.

After spending the past year as a peer coordinator, serving on the school’s Academic Council, and hosting a radio show at Georgetown, Iannaccone has begun a summer internship at the National Institutes of Health with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Iannaccone says the human science major at the School of Nursing & Health Studies has allowed him to explore his interest in human biology and medicine.

“The Human Science Program at Georgetown offered everything that I was looking for: small classes that focused on human health in a way that was unique,” he says. “The NHS also provided me the opportunity to minor in public health, which has given me a more complete and wholesome outlook on the health care system.”

Outside the Comfort Zone

As he began his time at Georgetown, Iannaccone promised himself that he would step outside his comfort zone and take advantage of new opportunities. This mindset led him to compete on club sports teams, write for the student newspaper the Georgetown Voice, and host a country radio show.

Even his decision to travel abroad to Buenos Aires, Argentina stemmed from a desire to seek out new experiences. Iannaccone applied to participate in the Translational Health Science Internship in Argentina during the summer after his sophomore year, a program led by Pablo Irusta, PhD, associate professor of human science.

As part of the program, Iannaccone had the opportunity to shadow physicians in the pediatric units of various hospitals throughout the capital city and conduct research exploring the effects of various environmental factors on symptoms caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

“It was extremely interesting to experience the delivery of primary health care in a foreign setting and compare it to that of the United States,” he says.

Exploring Research Avenues

Iannaccone credits his coursework as the stepping stone for his current interest in research. This past spring, Iannaccone took the course “Evidence of Wellness,” taught by Dan Merenstein, MD, associate professor of family medicine and human science.

The class featured guest lecturers, including Marsha Lopez (C’95), PhD, chief of NIDA’s Epidemiology Research Branch. Iannaccone conversed with Lopez, applied for a summer internship at NIDA, and became one of four current summer interns. Iannaccone will be spending his summer researching topics related to cannabis and tobacco.

“I don’t think I would be here if it weren’t for Georgetown and Dr. Merenstein’s class,” he says.

Future Plans  

Over the next year, Iannaccone will be applying to medical school and making the most of his senior year at Georgetown.

“Activities like the radio and peer advising have helped me find my place in the Georgetown community,” he says. “Experiencing health care in Buenos Aires and getting involved with NIDA have both been incredible experiences that have confirmed that a profession in health care is right for me. And I can’t thank the NHS and Georgetown enough for providing me with these opportunities.”

By Celeste Chen (C’14, G’16)

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Department of Human Science