Tyler Bruinsma '17


Tyler Bruinsma worked as an undergraduate research assistant during the summer of 2016 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He worked specifically in the Department of Radiology: Division of Nuclear Medicine.

What were the responsibilities of your internship? What did it entail?Tyler Bruinsma

The lab I was working in focuses on nuclear medicine research. Nuclear medicine is a branch of diagnostic radiology that focuses on using radioactive tracers to image different diseases. I worked on three major projects during the summer. First, I performed autoradiography on slices of brain tissue to evaluate different tracers designed to bind pathologies related to Alzheimer's disease. Second, I prepared a literature review about Fluorodopa imaging of brain tumors that my principal investigator, Dr. Lowe, used to write a book chapter. Finally, I authored a paper regarding the off-target uptake of an Alzheimer's tracer in meningiomas, a type of brain tumor. I hope to have this manuscript published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine in the coming months.  

How did CSB/SJU prepare you for the internship?

My courses in nutrition and exercise science in particular introduced me to the process of doing research. I gained a vast amount of experience reading literature and performing literature searches with the guidance of my professors. I also learned how to be an effective technical writer with constructive criticism from my advisors. The broad background I received from my liberal arts and integrated science curriculum in particular allowed me to approach many complicated topics from multiple perspectives. This was essential when I ran into roadblocks in my research.

What were some challenges/experiences that you faced? How did you overcome those challenges?

Throughout the summer I read more than 100 research articles. Retaining all of that information and staying engaged after long days of reading articles was extremely challenging. I tried my best to take short breaks between articles and work on multiple projects at once to keep me engaged. I also reflected on the importance of my work for patients even though I often felt disconnected from the clinical world. In general I gained a new appreciation for the importance of research and want to make it an important aspect of my medical career. 

What was your favorite memory?

I really enjoyed being an important part of the research team. I felt that my work really contributed to advancements in patient care and that was extremely rewarding. The core mission of the Mayo Clinic is that "the needs of the patient come first." I really felt the gravity of that mission throughout my internship and it continually inspired me to work hard every day.

Advice for students interested in applying for an internship?

Do something you are interested in. I know a lot of pre-med students who try to do research just for the sake of getting into medical school. Research is fun, but it isn't worth it unless you are passionate about it. Though you can't be picky, apply to programs that interest you and don't just apply for internships because you think you should in order to get into medical school.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be taking a gap year while applying for medical school. I was offered a full-time job with the lab that I interned with and plan to accept the offer.

Anything else you would like to add?

Being an integrated health science major was the best choice I made at CSB/SJU. I highly recommend the curriculum for anyone interested in a future in health care. I felt extremely prepared for my internship and equally well prepared for medical school.