Courtney Cini

Courtney Cini

Country: Australia, 2013
Mentor: Alyssa Hasty
My name is Courtney Cini, and I am a student from the University of Melbourne, Australia. On my return, I intend to successfully complete my final year of undergraduate studies-with a major in Pharmacology. After my degree, I would like to continue my studies. However, at this stage, I am still in the process of deciding the path I am going to pursue.

Throughout my internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, I will have the opportunity to work under the supervision of Dr. Alyssa Hasty, a dedicated investigator in the Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Department at this institution. This will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting and fortunate life journeys that I will ever experience.

The focus of the Hasty lab is on the role of macrophages in adipose tissue (AT) and their contribution to adipose tissue inflammation resulting in the development of insulin resistance (IR) and type 2 diabetes. Recently, the Hasty lab has become interested in inflammatory macrophage accumulation and the mechanisms that regulate this process. The lab is currently focused on decreased apoptosis as a mechanism by which inflammatory macrophage accumulation is increased in the obese state. The aim of my project will be to determine whether anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory macrophages display differences in susceptibility to apoptosis. This will encompass a range of techniques related to tissue cultures, cell treatments, protein isolation, Western Blotting and confocal immunofluorescent studies of adipose tissue.

Not only is this program going to enhance my laboratory techniques, methods and research experience, but it will also serve as a strong foundation for further research studies on my return to Australia, and possibly, back here at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Furthermore, it has always been a dream for me to do research in a different country- and at the moment, I am living that dream!

I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who has an interest for medical research. My experience at Vanderbilt has only just begun and all I can say is that it is already beyond words! The beauty of Vanderbilt and the city of Nashville, in general, is astonishing.

Finally, I was humbled by the warm welcome that I received from everyone at the institution, especially from the VISRA team. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Kathy Gould (Director of VISRA), Amanda Connolly (VISRA coordinator), Dr. Alyssa Hasty (Principal Investigator) and the rest of the VISRA team for transforming my dream into a reality.