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Gulliver senior's summer internships in kidney transplantation lab leads to poster of distinction at national surgical symposium
Gulliver senior's summer internships in kidney transplantation lab leads to poster of distinction at national surgical symposium

Coral Gables, Fla. – Jan. 26, 2012 – Jake Radell has been learning a lot about rejection lately. But the Gulliver Schools senior isn’t referring to the omnipresent college application process. He’s more interested in the processes involved in kidney transplant rejection and success in patients.

Jake became so well versed on the subject during a series of summer internships that he was invited to defend a clinical research poster accepted for presentation at the American Society of Transplantation Surgeons Winter Symposium that took place Jan. 12-15 in Miami Beach.

A student in Gulliver’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program, Jake researched and wrote part of the abstract appearing on the poster. To his surprise it earned a Poster of Distinction award as one of the 10 best posters presented at the annual meeting. The topic: predicting the success of organ transplants.

“It was really interesting to hear the questions asked by other researchers who came around to visit the poster,” said Jake, who presented the poster alongside his grandfather, Ralph J. Graff, M.D., a pioneer in the subject of transplantation and organ rejection.

When Jake was 15 he started spending his summers as an intern at his grandfather’s clinical laboratory at St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. Always interested in biology, he add this to other activities in his busy life that include working on engineering club projects after school and playing classic rock on the bass guitar.

“My grandfather always told me about his work and kept inviting me to come out and help in his lab, and I finally did,” Jake said.

Summers in the lab opened Jake’s eyes to the undertaking required to match a donor organ to a patient and developed a passion for working in the area of transplantation. His most recent internship gave him the opportunity to help analyze test data from successful transplantations.

The research he helped with resulted in an abstract published in the American Journal of Transplantation on “The effect of flow cytometry cross match and panel-reactive antibody status on kidney transplant survival.” Jake took the subject and turned it into the topic of his Extended Essay, an arduous 4,000-word paper IB students must research and write to qualify for an IB diploma.

Has the early success made a difference?

“This is just the beginning of my work in research. I hope to do research at college and possibly for the rest of my life,” said Jake, who has been accepted at several prominent universities.

“Jake is the perfect mixture of test tube and YouTube,” said Warren Zucker, the Gulliver Schools counselor who has been advising him during the college application process.