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Q&A with IIDR Summer Fellowship Recipient Kimberly Ng

Kimberly Ng is one of 10 IIDR trainees to have received the Institute’s prestigious Summer Fellowship Award. The highly competitive fellowship, now in its fourth year and worth $1,000, is designed to support students working in the labs of IIDR members during their summer practicum, which runs from May to August.

Whose lab are you working in and what drew you to their research?

I work in Dr. Michael Surette’s lab, which focuses on microbial and polymicrobial research. What got me interested in this area of research was a second-year cell biology project, where I had to do a literature review on the role of gut microbiota in celiac disease. This project was a great introduction to the world of microbiome research.

Describe your research project

I am currently working on a project that is a continuation of the work I pursued during the academic year, which is a case study on a patient that suffers from chronic bronchitis. It was determined that the patient’s first samples were culture negative, meaning no bacteria was detected in the clinical laboratory.

We ended up receiving these samples to conduct a more extensive culturing to identify the problem. We are thinking it might not be a single bacterial cause infection, but a series of interactions between these bugs in the patient’s lungs. My experiments have focused on identifying these interactions.

What are the real world applications of your research?

Disease and infections might not be caused by bacteria alone, so these interactions are very important to identify. If we are able to understand how bacteria behave at a very basic level, we may be able to develop novel strategies and therapeutics to treat patients.

What do you hope to accomplish during your fellowship?

Within the laboratory setting, there is a lot to learn, especially when it comes to personal development. My experience in the lab will lend itself to acquiring transferrable skills, including effective communication, independence and the ability to ask important questions.

How will this fellowship allow you to do this?

This fellowship has given me the opportunity to work in a cutting-edge facility with a great mentor.

What is your end goal, in terms of a career?

This coming fall I will begin my first term of medical school at McMaster. Having had this great experience in the lab, while working with people who are so passionate about their work, I know research will be a big component of what it is I end up doing.