Statement by MIPT Alumnus (01/2000)
The Biophysics Student, admitted to MIT, Caltech, Princeton
When I was a schoolgirl my parents and I
would go hiking all over Russia. Traipsing through the middle of the
untamed nature I realized that the most intriguing and complicated
objects in our world are living creatures. Now, having studied for four
and a half years at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and
having broad research experience, I am sure that improvement of our
understanding of living world is essential for successful existence of
our civilization and is the most important thing one can accomplish
during his or her life.
During last two years I have spent most of my time carrying out research and attending a number of extra-curricular lectures and seminars in biophysics. My favorite lectures were Biochemistry of the Cell and Biophysics of Membrane Processes part of which was devoted to model problem solving. Of great interest to me was also the inter-institutional seminar on modern problems and phenomena in biophysics. Prominent biophysicists from Russia and other countries participated and told us about their current research and its applications to life. All these significantly improved my understanding of the subject and further enhanced my interest in it. I found cellular physiology to be of the greatest interest to me. My extensive knowledge of physics and mathematical modeling proved to be very useful in understanding the principles that underlie biological phenomena in cells. Consequently, one of my research project involves the investigation of cytoplasmic membrane structure and another deals with study of potassium channels in cardio myocytes.
I carried out my first research project in biophysics at Lebedev Physical Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences in the biokinetics research group under the guidance of Prof. A. The ultimate goal of our research was to check the change in permeability of lipid bilayer for O2, glucose, K+, Na+, Ca++ and in membrane structure of the human cells under pressure. Working in this laboratory I performed a number of experiments, got acquainted with laboratory equipment and further studied mathematical modeling of biological processes. This research was especially interesting because we worked in collaboration with clinicians who used our findings in treatment of cancer and diabetes. By the end of the year I successfully defended a bachelor of science senior honors thesis on the topic "The Change of Erythrocyte's Membrane Permeability for Glucouse and Oxygen in Normal Conditions and Under Pressure."
Currently I am working on a second research project under the guidance of Prof. B at Cardiological Research Center (where the Russian president Yeltsin underwent his heart surgery). This laboratory deals primarily with treatments of atrial flutter and fibrillation. Specifically, we investigate the new Russian Class III antiarythmic drug Nibentan. It was invented in collaboration with this laboratory and is currently being used in clinics. Our current aim is to improve the existing formula. For the last year I have been investigating the effects of Nibentan and other drugs on the potassium ion channels of guinea pig and rabbit atrial and sinoatrial cells using the whole cell patch clamp technique. By May of 2000 I will have enough results in order to defend a masters thesis one year ahead of time.
After graduation I plan to continue my scientific career in the field of cell physiology. Successful research requires modern equipment and facilities which in current financial situation Russian laboratories cannot afford. These has forced me to look for other opportunities to continue my education. Department of Biophysics at Harvard University has excellent facilities and leading laboratories in which I can fully realize my scientific interests. Study of molecular physiology of potassium channels in the laboratory of Prof. Gary Yellen and study of acetylcholine receptors in the laboratory of Prof. Jonathan Cohen are of particular interest to me. I would regard my admission to Harvard University not only as a great honor but also as a great responsibility and an obligation to work hard.
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