Rutgers-Camden Biology Major to Participate in Select Summer Research Program

Matthew RattiIt hasn’t been long since the ink dried on his spring semester final exams, but Matthew Ratti is wasting no time in diving back into academic work.

“This is where I’d rather be,” says the Rutgers–Camden junior biology major, back on campus and excitedly poring over a packet of information outlining a summer research project.

Ratti, a Levittown, Pa. native now living in Voorhees, has been accepted to the exclusive Summer in Biomedical Sciences (SIBS) Undergraduate Research Program at University of Alabama-Birmingham. The program provides students from across the country with an opportunity to perform research under the supervision of UAB faculty. Each student receives a $2,000 stipend.

Only 10 sophomore- or junior-level students are accepted into the SIBS program each summer. This year, there were 158 applicants from 33 states.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity that will provide me with hands-on research experience I’ll be able to use to further my education and realize my goals,” says Ratti, who aspires to become a doctor.

Throughout the eight-week program, Ratti will study experimental stem cell therapies for thalassemia, otherwise known as Cooley ’s anemia, alongside a UAB graduate student.

Thalassemia is a blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most forms of thalassemia produce a chronic lifelong anemia that begins in early childhood and often must be treated with frequent transfusions.

Ratti’s research will focus on other ways to treat the complicated disease.

“It’s significant research,” Ratti says. “I want to be a doctor, but I also want to do research, so this is a good way to get a taste of both worlds.”

Ratti has already gained valuable experience in the medical field as a certified nursing assistant at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. He earned his certification at Bucks County Community College.

“Having worked in a hospital and having seen doctors help people in the way that they do really motivates me to want to do the same,” says Ratti, who transferred to Rutgers–Camden from Camden County College in 2012.

During the SIBS program, students participate in a seminar series designed to give insight into both the basic science and the clinical science aspects of common diseases, and take part in a Summer Research Expo to present their research findings to mentors and other participants.

“I’m excited to take this knowledge and apply it to even more research that I’ll do here at Rutgers–Camden,” Ratti says. “My classes at Rutgers–Camden have gotten me more interested in research in general. There are so many open doors here. You just have to take advantage of the opportunities you are given.”

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