PEY at Harvard-MIT

Priya Anandakumaran (1T3+PEY) is currently on PEY at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology.

“Six months ago I was sitting in a classroom reading scientific papers and learning about various concepts in biomedical engineering, and today I am carrying out the experiments that I was reading about, and am doing so at the very institutions that many of these concepts and assays were first discovered. I recently finished my third year in Engineering Science (biomedical engineering option) and am currently doing my Professional Experience Year internship in Professor Jeffrey Karp’s advanced biomaterials and stem cell-based therapeutics laboratory at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology.

The Karp Lab has a rich history with Engineering Science as over the last few years many students have successfully completed their PEY internships here. This year is no exception, as there are two other EngScis on PEY here, Jessica Ngai and Tara Stratton. Jessica and I work with Dr. Oren Levy, who is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the Karp Lab and our research focuses primarily on exploring the therapeutic properties of mesenchymal stem cells. These cells are already employed in over 200 clinical studies across the world for treating different diseases such as myocardial infarction, bone defects and graft-versus-host disease. In our research we employ a variety of strategies to engineer these cells and augment their therapeutic impact.

The Karp Lab is both very diverse, with people originating from all parts of the world, and is multi-disciplinary, with people specializing in many fields. However, everyone has the common ultimate goal of helping patients by improving the quality of healthcare through engineering. As well as being part of such a high-impact lab, one of the major advantages of being in Cambridge and Boston is the vast availability of resources. Being surrounded by so many pharmaceutical companies and some of the highest quality educational institutions and hospitals also allows for collaborations with prominent researchers in the biomedical engineering field. Another staple of the student experience in Boston is having the opportunity to attend talks and lectures by these researchers. These are especially useful because they have exposed me to many areas within biomedical engineering and have brought me significantly closer to knowing what I want to do my 4th year thesis in, and more importantly, what I hope to do after graduation.

Aside from being in the lab, and meeting world-class researchers, the rest of my time is largely spent exploring Boston, which is a beautiful city that has discovered a fine balance between nature, its rich history, and modern architecture. Boston’s spirit and livelihood is also very contagious – I’ve only been here for three months and am slowly turning into a Red Sox fan! The last few months were a great start to my internship, and I am excited to continue learning and see what’s in store for the rest of the year!”