T H E   N I H    C A T A L Y S T     N O V E M B E R   – D E C E M B E R  2004




All in a night's work: Sriram Subramaniam (foreground) reviews the last batch of images generated by departing intern Ganesh Kumar

On Wednesday, April 28, Ganesh Kumar worked until it was April 29, missing the last Metro out of the Bethesda Medical Center station. He stayed the night, working on his 3-D reconstructions of pancreatic tissue images and sleeping a few moments here and there on the couch in Sriram Subramaniam’s Building 50 lab.

The next morning, his mentor pulled up a chair to the computer and together they peered over the series of pancreatic slices.

"How did you segment this position? Is that the nucleus?" Subramaniam asked, as they clicked through the images on the screen. Kumar was quick in his responses, alert, and looked well rested and fresh.

A sophomore at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Kumar had taken a semester off to work with Subramaniam, chief of the biophysics section at NCI’s Laboratory of Cell Biology. The following day, the 30th, would end his four-month stint at NIH, and he needed to tie up loose ends.

Kumar had arrived in January at the same time the lab was entering into a CRADA to evaluate and establish standards for an automated "slice and view" scanning capacitance microscope that, says Subramaniam, "yields 10 times better resolution than confocal microscopy." As a member of the CRADA team, Kumar used the microscope and produced weekly reports on the machine’s output.

"He was in the right place at the right time," Subramaniam observes.

Kumar is working toward a bachelor of science degree in computer science; the previous summer, he’d done an internship at a major business corporation, working on databases. This time around, he wanted exposure to the biotech applications of his chosen field. "I was lucky," he says of his chance to work with Subramaniam on such an exciting project.

He anticipates graduate school, possibly medical school as well, and pursuing the biomedical and bioengineering aspects of computer science.

Enter Entry Point!

Kumar found his way to Subramaniam’s lab through his own initiative and through contact with individuals involved in establishing a collaboration between NIH and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in an AAAS program called Entry Point!

Entry Point! was set up in 1996 to facilitate the entry of undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities into internships in private industry and government in science, engineering, math, computer science, and certain business fields.

NIH’s Entry Point! is also looking for students majoring in biology, bioengineering, and biochemistry, as well as science students with writing and web design skills.

For more information, contact Delores Parron at 301-451-9677 or by e-mail or visit the AAAS website

Fran Pollner


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