News Releases

February 1, 2001

Emory Medical School student awarded RPB funding to take a year off and do research at Emory Eye Center

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

Obtaining funding for their own projects from the Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) foundation is not unusual for Emory 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 of medical school at the Emory School of Medicine.

RPBÕs Medical Student Eye Research Fellowships are designed to "stimulate gifted medical school students to consider careers in eye research," according to its application information. The Eye Center has been delighted to mentor the future M.D. as he develops his science and research skills, not to mention how it has benefited from his presence and contributions in the 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 Ophthalmology," says Dr. Edelhauser. "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 Dr. 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 intends on his original goal-that of 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," he jokes.

Parikh's current research involves how compounds used to sterilize eye surgical instruments affect the corneal endothelium. Studying isolated corneal tissue, Parikh is attempting to find out if certain new enzymatic compounds are better than the old ethylene oxide, which is possibly carcinogenic.

A 1993 graduate of Greater Atlanta Christian School and 1997 graduate of Emory University, Parikh is not sure where he wants to apply for a residency in ophthalmology, nor does he know what ophthalmology fellowship he'll apply for. Needless to say, with his added research experience, he has a better understanding of ophthalmology and visual science.

Parikh is a resident of Duluth, GA ((30097).

Media Contact: Joy H. Bell

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