Information for undergraduates interested in research in Dr. Lutgendorf’s Psychoneuroimmunology Laboratory:
The main research of the lab focuses on the interaction of psychological states with tumor progression in ovarian cancer patients. The work that is done is part of several grants from the National Institutes of Health examining interrelationships between stress, immune function and tumor growth factors. The patient populations we work with are ovarian, cervical, and breast cancer patients. We also investigate relationships between psychological stress, inflammation, and pelvic pain and urinary dysfunction. Third, we collaborate on research related to stress, nutrition, and multiple sclerosis.
The role of undergraduates in our research:
We rely on undergraduate research assistants for many of the most critical activities in the laboratory. Undergraduate research assistants are needed to help recruit patients to our studies, do follow-ups on patients, interview patients, do data management, help conduct immune assays, and assist with tech support for online groups for ovarian cancer patients. You also earn course credit for working in the lab. Students get 3 hours of course credit for working approximately 9 hours a week in the lab.
Duties of undergraduate research assistants:
Undergraduate research assistants are involved in the lab in various ways.
Students involved in the lab will help in ongoing projects, and responsibilities may include patient screening and interviewing, laboratory assays, data management,library research, and web based activities, depending on the background and interest of the student and the needs of the lab.
We have lab meetings every other week, usually Mondays at 5pm where we discuss relevant articles, research issues, and concepts related to health psychology and specifically interactions between the brain and the immune system.
What an undergraduate can learn from this experience:
This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in graduate school in health or clinical psychology, medical school, or allied health sciences to learn the basics of how research is done in mind-body medicine. Students learn how research is actually conducted, the theory behind our research, how studies are presented at conferences, how grants are written, and a variety of skills which may include how to do specific immune assays, and important interviewing data management skills.
In general, students must have a 3.2 GPA and at least a B+ in their statistics and research methods courses (if you have taken them) to work in the lab. Some coursework in biology is preferable, particularly if you want to work in the immune lab. Students should be highly motivated and capable of independent work. Freshmen and sophomores in particular are encouraged to apply.
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