Human Science Junior Earns National Institute on Aging Research Internship

MARCH 27, 2014 - A junior in the School of Nursing & Health Studies will begin as a research intern this summer at the National Institute on Aging.

Michael LaNasa (NHS’15), a human science major, has been accepted to the 10-week competitive internship through the institute’s Intramural Research Program.  He will work in the Translational Gerontology Branch.

“I first heard about the program when I was looking into doing undergraduate research during the spring of my freshman year,” LaNasa says.  “A couple professors mentioned it as a possibility and a good way to gain experience. I did a little research into the program and decided to wait to apply until I had some personal research experience.”

Competitive Program 

According to the letter of acceptance, the applicant pool for the program was “very competitive.”  All applicants had a grade point average of 3.5 or better, and there were 250 applications for 24 open slots.

“I think being able to focus solely on a research project for 10 weeks, working along side post-docs and having all of the resources of the NIH readily available will be a great way to get an idea of what life as a researcher is like,” LaNasa says.

The student from Louisiana notes that he is considering MD/PhD programs after Georgetown and hopes this experience will inform that decision.

Building Research

“Through the human science curriculum, I have been exposed to a wide array of [research] techniques,” LaNasa says.  “I think this experience will build on and improve the techniques I've been exposed to.”

He is currently conducting research related to cell signaling and cell regulation with Pablo Irusta, PhD, associate professor of human science who will be his thesis mentor for the major’s honors program.

“My research this summer is very similar to the topic of my thesis, and I am hoping that I can make serious headway on my thesis project this summer,” he says.

He also participated in the Translational Health Science Internship, a program that Irusta directs each summer at the INFANT Foundation in Argentina.

‘An Incredible Experience’

As he finishes up his third year, LaNasa says the human science major has prepared him for the MCAT and to pursue research.

“However, the major is so much more than that,” he says.  “I feel that in all of my human science classes I have been able to develop a relationship with the teachers. They care about you as both a student and a person and make the effort to get to know you and keep up with you. … In addition, because of the relatively small size of the major, I have gotten to know my fellow human science majors very well, including those outside of my year.”

He notes that he loves the opportunities that being in Washington, DC, presents.  He has participated in crew, as a co-captain of the club swim team, and on a Georgetown University Medical Brigades service trip to Honduras over spring break 2014.

“All of these experiences and all of the things that Georgetown has to offer really make it unique, and I love all of it,” he says.  “My to-do list never seems to get shorter as there are always more things that I want to do that just pop up on campus.”

By Bill Cessato