Now that it's all said and done, it feels like the immersion term went by far too quickly. There is just too much to learn and too many projects in the medical field to be done in only seven weeks. With that said, my project is finally nearing completion. (Miraculously taking only slightly longer than the seven week term!) I'm currently tying up some loose ends with the data analysis I did for Dr. Schwartz.
The last week and a half was a massive attempt to finish my project on time, so I wasn't able to see any surgeries or tag along with Dr. Schwartz. Regardless, I'm having great success with the optical imaging data I'm supposed to analyze. In my last post, I mentioned difficulties adjusting the gain of each pixel in the data so that it accurately represents truth. I was able to do this using a slick variance minimization method I found in an estimation and detection book. I also wrote matlab code that computes various blood flows (total, oxygenated and deoxygenated) to a certain region of the brain, based on the optical data. The hope is that I will be able to determine some sort of correspondence between a type of electrical stimulus and the blood flow response. Although the data is only taken in rats, it brings us one step closer to understanding the relationship between electrical activity and blood flow response, which is not currently understood on a microscopic scale.
In all, the summer immersion experience, though challenging at times, was incredibly unique and enriching. My medical vocabulary expanded by orders of magnitude, and I was given the privilege of seeing things that are usually exclusive to only medical students and clinicians. On top of it all, I had an interesting and medically useful project. I only hope that I was a fraction as helpful to my clinician, Dr. Schwartz as he was to me. I'd like to thank him along with Dr. Wang and Dr. Frayer and Belinda and all the other people behind the scenes who made the immersion term possible.