Pratt Fellow examines genetic manipulation

Imagine conducting innovative and potentially life saving biomedical research
all before your 22nd birthday. Jamie Bergen will tell you that such dreams are
possible through the Pratt Fellows program.

Bergen is one of two dozen undergraduates selected annually to receive the
school’s distinguished Pratt Fellowship, which allows students to receive
course credit and a summer stipend to conduct research under the direct
supervision of faculty members. Fellows are selected their junior year based
upon research interests, academic record, intellectual ability and maturity.

Bergen’s research focuses on transplanting myoblasts from one animal into
the damaged heart of another. She is attempting to suppress immune system
rejection associated with such transplants through genetic manipulation. Her
research could contribute to the development of alternative molecular
therapies for cardiovascular disease.

"The Pratt fellowship is very intense and longer than other undergraduate
research programs," Bergen says. "I feel like I get to immerse myself in my
project. I’ve been allowed to design my own experiments, and the program also
gives me ample time to collect important data."

The Pratt Fellow’s program is one of many opportunities for undergraduates to
conduct research. The school also allows seniors to conduct independent studies or collaborate with distinguished faculty members through programs like the CECT Undergraduate Fellows Program sponsored by the Center for Emerging Cardiovascular Technologies.

"Duke is known as one of the best universities is the world because it conducts great research," she said.