Exploring Different Sides of Medicine
LCM Student Marc Ganz Performed Research, Shadowed a Surgeon, and Worked as an EMT
Marc Ganz, a pre-med student at LCM, had a busy summer. While he worked as an assistant at an endocrinology lab at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, he shadowed an orthopedic surgeon and worked as an EMT.
“I figured getting the broadest possible exposure to different sides of medicine was the best way to prepare for medical school,” he said.
At Einstein, Ganz worked on three linked studies that dealt with diabetes research.
“We were looking at the changes that a person undergoes when they’re hyperglycemic, i.e. having low blood sugar,” stated Ganz. “The body has all these natural processes that occur when a person goes through hypoglycemia like the production of epinephrine and other hormones. These mechanisms, called counterregulatory responses, let the hypoglycemic person know they need sugar by causing headaches, nausea and other symptoms. But when a person who has low blood sugar undergoes hypoglycemia several times, like many diabetics do, these processes stop. We are trying to understand why. We want the body to continue having these counterregulatory responses.”
The studies looked at drugs that might affect the part of the brain that shuts off the responses. While all the studies had human subjects, one study also tested the effects of a particular drug on rodents.
“Everything done with rodents is more controlled and can be done to a greater extent,” explained Ganz. “We can deliver medications to their hearts and brain directly, which we can’t do with patients. We can also extract the rodents’ livers to understand changes in their gene expression.”
Two experiences in LCM prepared Ganz for the position: taking genetics and cellular biology with LCM professor Dr. Kenneth Danishefsky and a research class with Dr. Ann Shinnar.
“Dr. Danishefsky gave us a strong background in biology so we understood how to test for biological markers and the various mechanisms used to examine them,” Ganz elaborated. “It was easy to transfer that knowledge to look for gene expressions.”
Ganz called Dr. Shinnar’s research class “difficult, but extremely useful.”
“Dr. Shinnar expected a lot out of us,” recalled Ganz. “We had to write extensive papers with dozens of sources and give in-depth talks on our papers. The class helped us understand how real research is conducted. By the time I began working in the lab, I didn’t have any trouble understanding dozens of papers on diabetes.”
Ganz shadowed an orthopedic surgeon in St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
“Twice a week I observed him, once in the operating room and once in the clinic,” said Ganz.
This isn’t Ganz’s first time shadowing a physician. Last year, he shadowed a neurosurgeon, though he said the two experiences couldn’t be more different.
“There is such a contrast in the different surgeries,” he explained. “Neurosurgery is usually longer and more invasive and patients are much more fragile afterwards. With orthopedics, the procedures are often done with minimal incisions so patients have quicker recoveries.”
There was one common denominator he said.
“In surgery, everyone is working as a team,” said Ganz. “The surgeon has a physician assistant and an array of nurses working with him each step of the way. It’s a team-effort.”
Ganz is also experiencing hands-on medicine as an EMT.
“It’s been one of the most satisfying experiences,” he said. “It’s a great introduction to the medical field—we get patients at their sickest in need of proper care.”
He is set to graduate this fall and will be working as a full-time study coordinator in the Albert Einstein lab next year. While he is a biology honors student, Ganz is finishing up a minor in psychology.
“I think part of being a well-rounded person and a well-rounded physician is taking the combination of what you know and using it to form a bigger picture about what you’re doing,” he stated.