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March 26, 2001

Med student Parikh has
eye-opening research year

By Joy Bell


Not many medical students take a year off to enrich their education with research, but that’s just what third-year medical student Chirag Parikh did in order to work with Emory Eye Center researcher Henry Edelhauser. Under the guidance of Edelhauser, whose expertise is corneal research, Parikh has found a second home, at least for this year.

Obtaining funding from the Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) foundation is not unusual for Eye Center researchers—but highly unusual for any medical student. Parikh put together funding from the Eye Center, along with RPB’s $12,000 grant for a year of research, between his junior and senior years at the School of Medicine.

RPB’s Medical Student Eye Research Fellowships are designed to “stimulate gifted medical school students to consider careers in eye research,” according to its application.

Eye Center researchers have mentored the future M.D. as he’s developed his science and research skills—not to mention the contributions Parikh has made in Eye Center labs.

“This is the first time a medical student from Emory has obtained funding for a year to undertake research in the Department of Ophthalmolo-gy,” Edelhauser said. “Chirag has made a significant contribution to our laboratory research, and this grant will help prepare him for whatever future career moves he intends.”

Founded in 1960 by Jules Stein, RPB has channeled more than $170 million into crucial eye research at medical institutions throughout the United States through its mission to preserve vision and restore sight. Since then it has been identified with virtually every major scientific advance in eye research.

Although Parikh is intent on his original goal—becoming an ophthalmologist—he feels this additional research year will enable him to make a clearer decision within the field. He’ll know firsthand the difference ophthalmology and its ongoing research is making to patients. “I’ll know more about the field than just how to spell it,” Parikh quipped.

His current research involves how compounds used to sterilize eye surgical instruments affect the corneal endothelium.

Studying isolated corneal tissue, Parikh is attempting to discover if certain new enzymatic compounds are better than the old ethylene oxide, which could be carcinogenic.


Back to Emory Report March 26, 2001