TROY alum participating in Harvard summer research internship

Blake Swicord is studying with top doctors in Massachusetts as part of a Harvard Medical School internship.

Blake Swicord is studying with top doctors in Massachusetts as part of a Harvard Medical School internship.

A recent Troy University graduate is currently gaining hands-on medical experience through a prestigious summer research internship with Harvard Medical School.

Blake Swicord, a 2017 TROY graduate and current University of Alabama Birmingham medical student, gained acceptance into the Harvard Catalyst Visiting Research Internship Program, which pairs students with mentors in labs at Harvard-affiliated hospitals.

“I came about this program while looking for opportunities to spend my summer doing research outside of Alabama,” Swicord said. “With all my education coming from institutions within the state, I thought it would be beneficial to get some outside experiences. I applied to the program in January and started in June.”

VRIP pairs six medical students from around the country with distinguished mentors at the Harvard-affiliated hospitals.

Swicord, who graduated from TROY with a degree in biology-medical science, is paired with Dr. Anthony Rosenzweig at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He’s spending the summer working alongside Dr. Jason Roh and studying contributing factors to irregular heartbeats.

“In addition to getting research experience, I take classes in biostatistics and clinical/translational research through Harvard Medical School,” Swicord said. “We also have a guest speaker every week that gives on a lecture on the exciting things going on in the scientific community in Boston. My day-to-day activities include learning many of the basic laboratory techniques necessary to characterize the relationship between certain proteins and their pathobiology in the heart.”

Swicord credits his Troy University mentor, Dr. Jaqueline Jones, with much of his success to this point.

“In addition to being a great educator during my genetics and molecular biology courses — principles I apply every single day in lab — Dr. Jones also wrote me a recommendation for the Harvard program,” he said. “Dr. Jones is a tremendous mentor and advocate for her students, as well as a vital resource for any student at TROY who is interested in the sciences.”

The internship ends at the end of July, but Swicord is already feeling its value.

“It has been absolutely incredible,” he said. “I’m extremely blessed to have such wonderful mentors and lab colleagues. It was a steep learning curve at first, but with time I have grown to love the work that I am doing as well as the people that I get to work alongside.”

After the internship, Swicord begins his second year of medical school.