Savannah Ryan ’21, a molecular biology and Hispanic studies double major, will join Mass General in Boston as a clinical researcher after graduation. She talks here about her new position and experiences that led her to this field.
Tell us about your new position.
It’s a clinical research position. I’ll be working with Dr. Joy Tsai and Dr. Ben Leder. Their research focuses specifically on osteoporosis and bone metabolism. Dr. Tsai mainly looks at osteoporosis and how using different medications, or different orders of medications and doses, can help optimize treatment. My specific roles will be helping conduct study visits with patients and their physicians, and then helping with recruiting patients and screening and enrolling them in the studies. Also, sometimes collecting samples like phlebotomy — blood — and processing samples in the lab. And then entering data and helping to write papers that [may] get published and upholding the standards of the institutional review board to make sure that everything’s ethical.
Majors: Molecular Biology and Hispanic Studies
Hometown: Brookfield, Conn.
High school: Brookfield High School
How did you decide to pursue this opportunity?
I’m pre-med, so I knew that I wanted to take some time off after Hamilton before I went to med school, to get some research experience. I wanted to work with patients and gain some more knowledge about research in general, so this felt like a perfect opportunity. At Hamilton, I’ve done organic chemistry research … and I have gotten some patient interaction while studying abroad in Spain. But this felt like a really good fit because it will be doing the kind of research that I have already done, but with a more medical focus and getting some kind of patient interaction, which will be really crucial for when I become a doctor. And I wanted to live in Boston. And Mass Gen is a great research hospital.
What courses, professors, or mentors at Hamilton helped to prepare you?
A lot of my pre-med classes, honestly, set me up really well for this position. My junior year I studied in Madrid, and that was a cool experience because one of my classes was an internship at a hospital. I got to work with a diverse group of patients and use Spanish in a medical setting. Then in my interview process, a lot of people asked me about my biochemistry senior thesis and how that process has been for me, so I would say that set me up pretty well. And then other courses that I feel were relevant — I had to take two biochemistry classes ... and I took a sociology of health and illness course. I felt that prepared me to understand more about other things in medicine and how socioeconomic status and race and gender affect someone’s health.
Have you always been interested in becoming a doctor?
I’ve known since like middle school. I remember in seventh grade being like “Mom, Dad, I want to be a doctor.” And I loved those medical shows, and then throughout high school and in college as I’ve gained more experience in science and in medicine, like shadowing. And just these research experiences … it’s really confirmed my interest in that and increased my desire to be a doctor.
Have you done relevant extracurriculars outside of Hamilton?
I’d say a pretty relevant one is that I volunteer at a camp for kids with cancer called Camp Ta-Kum-Ta. That’s been a cool experience, getting to hang out with kids — less of the medical side and more just on a day-to-day basis … it’s been a great experience.
What will you miss most about Hamilton?
I think the people. Everyone at Hamilton is so smart and nice and down-to-earth. I feel like that’s going to be kind of hard to find out in the real world. So that and just having everyone in the same place has been really, really nice. And really great mentorship here as well.