“No one has ever done this before,” explained Gupta.
This summer, the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) followed a senior and undergraduate researcher, Nithin Gupta, as he participated in an exciting summer research experience with the Comparative Medicine Institute at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Throughout the summer Gupta introduced us to his research project, which focused on using stem cells from a pig to develop organoids, or a miniaturized and simplified version of an organ. “No one has ever done this before,” explained Gupta when asked what excited him about his work. He continued, “for me, research is always more interesting when there is a medical application to it, and for this, there are a lot like wound healing, skin grafts, skin cancer studies, and drug screenings.”
Gupta notes the initial trials took a little longer than expected but did eventually yield extremely promising results. He recounted one of the most exciting moments was about two and a half months into the summer when he was feeling frustrated. “Nothing was really happening, so on a whim, I decided I would check the plate before I threw it away to start over, and thankfully I did,” because he noticed the development of the first organoid.
Gupta explained his next jolt of excitement came when he began to do the imaging of the organoids using a high-resolution microscope. “Basically, the microscope takes hundreds of photos at different layers and overlays the images to create a 3D image, so we can use the different markers to understand what we are looking at.” He explained the green in the images represents the structure or skeleton of the cell, and this is intended to help researchers understand the structures they are viewing under the microscope. Gupta used blue stain to indicate the cells’ nucleus and used red to indicate cell division, which when overlaid with the blue, creates the pink shown in the images.
Even with these exciting revelations, Gupta’s work on this project is far from complete. “I’ll likely be working on this project for the rest of my time here at NC State,” indicated Gupta. He has plans to present his work at an international research competition in New York in January. He explained it is the same competition where he took first prize last year, but this time he will be competing at the undergraduate level. He is excited about the opportunity and plans to continue working with his mentors to prepare for the competition.
For students considering getting involved with undergraduate research, Gupta recommends finding a faculty member doing research in an area you are interested in and connecting with them. He also notes “it’s important to not get discouraged by one or two bad experiences,” explaining he has learned a lot throughout his time as an undergraduate researcher.
For students looking to learn more about opportunities to get involved in undergraduate research check out the OUR website, or consider joining OUR for their annual Undergraduate Research Speed Networking event on October 2, 2019, in the Talley Student Union Ballroom.
Feature photo credit: Nithin Gupta, Senior in Genetics; and Brantley Atkinson, Associate Director Communications & Marketing, Enrollment Management & Services