This summer I worked at The Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety (CTSA), a specialized center widely known for its research and clinical expertise in the understanding and treatment of various anxiety disorders. I was under the mentorship of Dr. Anu Asnaani, who allowed me to fully immerse myself and explore the countless aspects of what is necessary in order to conduct high-quality research in a clinical setting. Dr. Asnaani, as well as the other staff and faculty of the CTSA, were always incredibly encouraging and willing to put time and effort into teaching and guiding me so that I could become involved in both the clinical and research practices that coexist at the CTSA.
For my personal research project this summer, Dr. Asnaani taught me how to go about conducting research utilizing data collected in Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) and the statistical software program, SPSS, for data analysis. She guided me through the entire process of choosing a research question, doing a background literature search, coming up with hypotheses, conducting data analyses, and finally, attaining and interpreting results. I learned invaluable lessons through this process, related to the management of time and scheduling as well as to the management of the project itself. I chose to pursue a research question centered around the effect of age of onset for certain anxiety disorders on both quality of life and functional impairment. This alone was an incredible part of my summer research experience that I am very proud to have been able to accomplish.
Not only was I able to complete my own research project over the course of this summer, but I was also given the opportunity to take on key roles within ongoing research studies at the CTSA. I managed recruitment, coordination, and facilitating patients through one experimental study protocol and assisted in recruiting participants for another community-based study. Beyond this, I was given several other lab tasks throughout the summer that gave me well-rounded comprehension of the multiple aspects of research and clinical practices in the field.
Overall, the CTSA and PURM have given me instrumental insight into what research in a clinical environment entails. The experiences that I have had are superb, and I have learned so much more in the space of these ten weeks than I ever imagined. I will be continuing at the CTSA under Dr. Asnaani for the upcoming academic year, and I know that I will have the opportunity to continue pursuing this same exploration in the way that I was so lucky to be able to this summer.
Thank you to PURM, the CTSA, Dr. Vernon-Grey, and Dr. Asnaani!