Wayne Med-Direct student wins the summer research fellowship from Penn State University to study changes in brain structure due to chronic inactivity


     Benjamin Huber

     Biological Science (Honors), 2020

     Wayne Med-Direct 2016 cohort





A little bit of your background.

I grew up in Royal Oak, MI, just 3 miles away from the Detroit border. I attended Royal Oak High School.

How did you become passionate about science and medicine?

Throughout my high school years I tried to decide on a career that I would like to pursue. I had always loved science classes throughout all of my years of schooling, and helping others has always been a passion of mine, so studying medicine became the obvious choice.

What makes Wayne Med-Direct a unique program?

When I heard that Wayne State University was starting the new Med-Direct program I knew that I had to be a part of it. Not only this program provides me with some great opportunities such as research, shadowing physicians, and being a part of a group of students who are equally passionate about medicine, but it also enables me to go through my years of schooling without accumulating any debt. This is my second year in the program and I cannot think of a better place to be.

How has the Wayne Med-Direct program supported your aspirations in becoming a physicians who serve underserved communities?

In the past 30 years, Detroit has been one of the most underserved areas in the country in terms of healthcare, and providing citizens with basic needs. One of our missions as Med-Direct students is to change this now, and in the future as physicians. Living in the city not only gives us a great perspective on what needs to be done to improve the city and help its residents, but it also puts us in a position to take action in making change. One way that I am making change is through research at the Wayne State School of Medicine.

What is your research experience at Wayne State?

I joined Dr. Patrick Mueller’s lab in the summer of 2017 where we study neural control of the cardiovascular system. We focus on how the brain physically changes its structure in response to chronic inactivity, which has been known to lead to high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, stroke, and countless other health problems. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. By exploring how the body changes in response to inactivity, we can gain a better understanding of how to prevent the many health implications that come along with it. In our lab, we study the nervous and cardiovascular systems of rats in reaction to activity and inactivity to gain insight on how similar changes might take place in humans.

Congratulations on receiving the summer research fellowship from Penn State University!

This summer I was awarded with a research fellowship provided by the Summer Translation Cardiovascular Science Institute (STCSI) at Penn State University. This program provides few undergraduate students with funds to pursue their research projects over the summer. In addition, the program hosts weekly seminars to educate us on cardiovascular health, and its implications in society. Altogether these opportunities have helped me prepare for my future career.

What are your career aspirations?

I plan to pursue a career in sports medicine with an ambition of educating our communities on the importance of cardiovascular health and how to maintain it.

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