Pursuing passion for research in Spain

Sanjana Srinivasan

Fulbright grant awardee Sanjana Srinivasan’s passion for research was developed at a young age.

As a Hinsdale Central High School student, she worked in labs at UIC and the University of Chicago to study proteins involved with the medical condition where a portion of the bowel dies, as well as the cell cycle regulation in yeast.

Over three years as a student in the UIC Honors College and Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions in medicine, her devotion to research flourished while studying gastrointestinal and liver issues. She conducted independent projects, strengthened technical skills, and applied coursework lessons in a lab setting under the direction of Pradeep Dudeja, professor of physiology in the College of Medicine.

“I love research because research makes the world go forward with its advancements and contributions to our body of knowledge,” said Srinivasan, who received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and minor in Spanish this month.

She will move to Pamplona, Spain, this fall for nine-months of Fulbright supported research at the University of Navarra.

Her work there will examine the pathophysiological metabolic changes that occur in the liver and intestine related to obesity and aging, as well as the potential benefits of long-term dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, and regular aerobic physical exercise in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity.

“The Fulbright will give me the chance to apply critical observations made in the laboratory to the pathophysiology of metabolic disorders in the liver and intestine,” she said.

Srinivasan’s academic and service achievements earned her Phi Beta Kappa membership, a Presidential Award Program Honors Scholarship, a Chancellor’s Student Service and Leadership Award, and the Honorable Paul Simon Intern Scholarship from the Illinois State Society.

The Simon honor gave her the opportunity to intern for U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly and learn about the political process first-hand, in addition to public policy issues involving health equity and gun violence.

“I came back to UIC with an understanding of issues like the rising cost of healthcare and the complexity of health insurance in the United States. I also learned about how important it is for physicians to be advocates for their patients.” she said.

At UIC, she was a health educator and a leadership council member for the Peer Health Exchange, a campus organization that provides health education to Chicago high school students.

“The workshops I have taught are focused on building the skills of communication and advocacy, which can be everything from making videos to improve awareness of an issue to speaking up for those who cannot speak up for themselves,” she explained. “Through the Peer Health Exchange, I have seen first-hand the importance of a strong foundation of health education and how it can improve health outcomes for our communities.”

Srinivasan plans to attend medical school in the U.S. after her studies in Spain.

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