The Students of UConn Health

El-Tayyeb, a seventh-semester biological sciences major, has been conducting research at UConn Health since the summer of 2018. From his intern experience, El-Tayyeb says experimentation with iodine nanoparticles has the ability to make lower doses of radiation more effective. (Photo provided by El-Tayyeb)

UConn Health’s Farmington branch has integrated undergraduate students into their research program in exchange for internship credit, according to student researcher Ferris El-Tayyeb. He and his team are currently conducting research regarding effective treatment alternatives to cancerous tumors and the relationship between sickle cell anemia and bone loss.

El-Tayyeb, a seventh-semester biological sciences major, has been conducting research at UConn Health since the summer of 2018. From his intern experience, El-Tayyeb says experimentation with iodine nanoparticles has the ability to make lower doses of radiation more effective.

“Radiation damages brain tissue, so you have to use lower doses with brain tumors,” Tayyeb said. “Iodine nanoparticles, when around the tumor, interact with the radiation to increase the local dose of radiation.”

Mahak Kanjolia, a seventh-semester physiology and neurobiology major, has been working with El-Tayyeb on the interaction between nanoparticles and radiation. Kanjolia states how conducting research can be worked into a student’s schedule.

"I work two days out of the week for course credit, so about sixteen hours [per week],” Kanjolia said.

Sarah Tavakoli, a seventh-semester molecular and cellular biology major, researches under Assistant Professor Dr. Liping Xiao from the Department of Medicine. Dr. Xiao supervises students as they analyze gene expressions, according to the Office of Undergraduate Research website. Tavakoli said her time at UConn Health has benefited her as a student.

“Getting involved in research has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my college career,” Tavakoli said. “This program specifically was the reason I decided not to transfer schools. I saw how much it had given me through the wet lab skills and the passion I have for medical research.”

Kanjolia said participating in this research opportunity has provided applicable knowledge, both inside and out of the classroom.

“I have benefited by being able to learn a lot about cancer and to have had the opportunity to gain lab experience in a real world setting that I can use for future jobs,” Kanjolia said.

El-Tayyeb said the benefits of interning at UConn Health surpasses what he’s learned by lectures alone.

“Doing research with real cells and using potential future clinical treatments has taught me a lot about the relationship between research and the real clinical practice,” El-Tayyeb said.


Allison O’Donnell is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at allison.o’donnell@uconn.edu.