Future Doctor Finds Passion for Research

Eliza Klos, undergraduate studying Integrative Neuroscience at Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, photographed at a laboratory in the Biotechnology Building of the Innovative Technologies Complex, March 30, 2023.

Undergraduate Eliza Klos has already crafted a sturdy foundation to flourish as a physician. 

One of Klos’ first pivotal steps when she got to Binghamton University was declaring a major in neuroscience — an interesting choice for a pre-health student. Klos said she sought a concentration that would allow her to learn about people holistically. 

“I wanted something that was going to be different,” says Klos, a member of the class of 2024. “I like that (neuroscience) is interdisciplinary and it involves more than just biology. It has more of a human-basis so it’s been a really good fit for me so far.”

The next step Klos took was getting involved in research early — even before getting into college.  Klos grew up in Buffalo, which is where she discovered her passion for helping others. Through a high school summer program at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Klos was able to gain her first taste of what it would mean to be a physician and a researcher. She was given an independent project where she examined a type of cancer called mantle cell lymphoma, which targets the lymphatic system. 

“The summer before my senior year, I worked in a lymphoma and myeloma cancer research lab,” Klos recalls. “My research focused on examining a potential mechanism for resistance of the cancer to chemotherapy drugs. If the pathway can be discovered, it could be targeted with drugs, hopefully eliminating the problem of resistance.”

As a First-Year Research Immersion Program (FRI) participant and a member of Binghamton University’s Scholars Program, Klos has had plenty of research experiences since then. For FRI, her project focused on creating a novel model of the effect coronavirus-related stress had on children. Their chosen schematic? Rats.

“This was the first time this project was done in the neuroscience stream,” Klos says. “Really we were trying to find a way to model what that kind of stress that came for kids during the time of COVID-19 would look like in rats. So that involved socially isolating the rats for short periods of time and then analyzing both their behavior and their neurochemistry.” 

Following her last semester in FRI, Klos knew she wanted to continue doing research, so she emailed several professors with similar interests. That’s how she landed her next research opportunity as an undergraduate research assistant in Assistant Professor Laura Cook’s biology lab. 

The lab’s main focus is on streptococcus A, the bacteria that may cause strep throat symptoms in some patients, but not in others. It’s important to understand differences between bacteria that require treatment and those that don’t. As a means to deter the onset of antibiotic resistance, physicians need to be able to narrow down whether certain patients need to be prescribed antibiotics, even despite their strep tests coming back positive.

Within the Cook lab, Klos is something of a head researcher, helping with the organization of the lab’s undergraduates, training them and keeping Cook informed on their progress. According to Cook, she’s also in charge of collecting samples, testing them, reporting all the data and forming training initiatives. 

“She’s a leader, both socially and scientifically,” Cook says. “We had some issues with contamination, especially with all of the new workers, but she’s been helping us troubleshoot that. She streamlined the undergraduates and their processes, taught them sterile technique and suggested training. She always goes above and beyond!”

Klos serves as the vice president of the American Medical Women’s Association on campus. It’s an organization devoted to advancing women and others in medical careers. 

“It’s really meant for anyone who has an interest in medicine, whether they’re hoping to go into medicine or just find it interesting,” Klos says. “We try to be open to everyone.”

Klos’ antibiotics research did not stop in the Cook lab. As a university scholar, she had access to the Guthrie Scholars Premedical Internship, where besides helping with research, she also had the chance to shadow different doctors and present a research lecture before a panel. Her main focus for the lecture was her collaboration with an orthopedic surgeon, studying the necessity of antibiotics among elective foot and ankle surgery patients.

“One of my favorite things [about research] has been communicating it to other people,” Klos says. “I’ve done quite a few presentations and a pretty big research lecture at Guthrie, and it’s very exciting to share the research I’ve been working on. I’m very proud of all of it and it’s so nice to get positive feedback and bounce ideas off of different people who are even more knowledgeable than I am.”

While she isn’t set on any one medical career yet, Klos knows medical school is her next step following graduation. Anesthesiology has been the most interesting focus for her, given the personable nature of the position.

“Being an anesthesiologist involves talking with patients at a high-stress time for them, so you have to focus on making sure patients are comfortable,” Klos says. “It’s been one of my favorite specialties so far, but I still have more to explore.”

Written by: Blessin McFarlane for Binghampton University; used with permission. Find the original article here.

Founded in 1978, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) focuses on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity. Among the many activities and networking opportunities that CUR provides, the organization also offers support for the professional growth of faculty and administrators through expert-designed institutes, conferences, and a wide-range of volunteer positions. The CUR community, made up of nearly 700 institutions and 13,000 individuals, continues to provide a platform for discussion and other resources related to mentoring, connecting, and creating relationships centered around undergraduate research. CUR’s advocacy efforts are also a large portion of its work as they strive to strengthen support for undergraduate research. Its continued growth in connections with representatives, private foundations, government agencies, and campuses world-wide provides value to its members and gives voice to undergraduate research. CUR is committed to inclusivity and diversity in all of its activities and our community.

CUR focuses on giving a voice to undergraduate research with learning through doing. It provides connections to a multitude of campuses and government agencies, all while promoting networking and professional growth to its community.