I am Arwa Ahmed, a 5th year Egyptian student at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biotechnology in the German University of Cairo, Egypt.
I am currently working in Dr. Vito Quaranta’s lab in Cancer Systems Biology and I am studying the heterogeneous drug response that melanoma cells exhibit when exposed to targeted therapy which I find as utterly exciting and fascinating.
VISRA is not just about learning lab techniques and the research experience, but it is a great opportunity to give you a sneak peak about how life as a graduate student is like at Vanderbilt and to open your eyes to the science and research community with the challenges they encounter and how they are tackled. Furthermore, it provides you with an opportunity to interact with students from different areas of the world and you get to have the experience of culture exchange under one roof which I believe is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Nashville is a very calm city, with gentle, friendly and helpful residents. The weather, to me, was the strangest since it can flip from the hot blazing sun and humidity to the heavy cloudy sky which ends up in a thunderstorm, so your umbrella becomes as important as your ID and cellphone when you go out.
I am thankful to Vanderbilt, everyone in-charge of the VISRA program and in Dr. Vito Quaranta’s Lab. I do not want to mention names so as to not forget anyone, but I am very grateful to every single person who has helped provide me with this unique experience and is working on making our eight-week stay here valuable, constructive, enjoyable, smooth and above all, a tremendous learning experience.
For all those considering applying for the program and wishing to get a clearer image on the research field, do not hesitate to do so and do not underestimate yourself. The experience is exceptional and is worth every day you spend away from your home.