This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Ariana Gardizy, NUR ’22
This summer was a great, eye-opening experience for me in regard to potential healthcare careers. Initially I always had this thought that I would go to Penn and become a pediatric nurse practitioner post-BSN. Working with Dr. Ariana Chao throughout the school year and into the summer as an intern was an incredible experience in which I was presented the opportunity to gain more insight and hands-on experience into the realm of nursing research and clinical trials, both of which allowed me to further my skills in research as well as increase my knowledge in biobehavioral aspects of obesity and binge eating disorder. Having the chance to work in conjunction with CHOP (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) and several medical companies was a perfect way to encompass many of my research and nursing-related career goals. Being a nursing and nutrition major, I highly enjoyed working alongside Dr. Chao with the following clinical trials related to diet and weight loss:
“There is an unfunded project that is starting in collaboration with CHOP’s Healthy Weight Program examining the effect of food insecurity on weight loss in pediatric patients. The second is a K23 funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research/NIH. The purpose of this research is to conduct an RCT assessing the impact of CBT on neural responses to binge eating stimuli. Females who are obese with BED will be randomized to either a 16-week, one-on-one CBT intervention (n=20) or a waitlist control (WL; n=20). Both groups will have blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans at baseline and after the 16-week intervention. During the scans, participants will complete the following tasks:
1) food-specific stop signal task (SST), and 2) script-driven imagery of binge foods. The last study is examining the effects of tirzepatide on weight loss maintenance. Participants will have a 12 week run-in where they are provided with a partial meal replacement program and lifestyle modification sessions. Those who lose at least 5% of their initial weight will be randomized to the second phase of tirzepatide or placebo, both combined with continued lifestyle modification sessions.”
This internship additionally gave me the opportunity to collaborate with interdisciplinary colleagues and to contribute to abstracts and presentations in clinical research experiences related to adult and pediatric obesity and eating disorders. These skills will be highly beneficial for my career as I will be starting a year-long research study on binge eating during the pandemic under the mentorship of Dr. Chao. Ultimately, this internship succeeded in providing me with new skills and knowledge to support my career goals.