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Puthyda Keath

Puthyda Keath ’19 at her summer internship with OHSU.

Class Year: 2019
Hometown:​ Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia
Major​: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Can you tell us what you’re doing this summer? What are your basic duties as an intern.

This summer I am interning in Dr. Rosenbaum’s lab at Oregon Health & Science University. There are two ongoing clinical research studies that I am working on. The first study is the relationship between the human microbiome and HLA B27 associated diseases (autoimmune diseases). The second study is called “Characterizing Uveitis by Gene Expression,” which aims to find a new way of diagnosing uveitis in individual patients.

One of my main roles is working with other study coordinators at OHSU Rheumatology Clinic and the Casey Eye Institute to recruit eligible patients into the studies. My other roles in the lab include processing samples of blood, skin, saliva, stool, and urine that have been collected from the patients for further analysis, making and staining slides of tissues for microscope imaging, coding health survey questionnaires for analysis, and other logistical work in following up with participants.

On top of working in the research lab at OHSU, I am also shadowing a pediatric surgeon at Kaiser Permanente, where I get to observe surgeries in the OR and pre-op/post-op in clinic consultation.

How has Lewis & Clark supported you in the process of finding and securing your internship?

Without the tremendous support from the L&C community, I would not be able to get such incredible hands-on experience in a professional working environment. Lewis & Clark alumni have always been a great resource for networking, and a few alumni helped make connections that led to my job this summer. My biology professor Pamela Zobel-Thropp was very keen on supporting me in finding internships and oversaw the process after I got accepted. Last but not least, the International Students and Scholars office helped me prepare all of the legal paperwork so that I could work off-campus.

How do you see this internship leading to a career in your chosen field and aiding in your overall career development?

I have gained various skills diving into clinical research studies through this internship, including being able to apply my coursework knowledge to real studies, learn about technical lab processes, and experience research from its early stage. I have also increased my self-confidence and interpersonal skills through interacting with people in the hospital and lab settings, from patients to doctors and research study coordinators. These skills are really important for when I step into my career and will help me expand my professional network.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your experience thus far?

My dream is to become a pediatrician. Being able to shadow one has opened my eyes to see the difference this profession makes in children’s lives and further motivated me to pursue my passion.

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