During his sophomore year at Brown, Samer Wahood ’21 pursued the opportunity to participate in the Hassenfeld Institute’s 2019 Summer Scholars Program as a research assistant for a rare genetics project. Wahood decided to apply to the program after a chance meeting with Eric Morrow, M.D., PhD, Mencoff Family Associate Professor of Biology in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown and co-lead of the institute’s Autism Initiative. As a Summer Scholar, Wahood joined Dr. Morrow’s lab, working on an international registry for families of individuals with Christianson syndrome, an X-linked disorder caused by genetic mutations.
To better understand the manifestation of epilepsy in patients with Christianson syndrome, Wahood developed a survey for the parents and caregivers of children with Christianson syndrome, who often suffer from epilepsy. In addition to being mentored by Dr. Morrow, Wahood worked closely with Melissa Clark, PhD, who directs the School of Public Health’s Survey Research Center, and Luca Bartolini, M.D., director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
“It was great to have the support of the Hassenfeld Institute, which connected me with my mentors. The mentorship aspect is the program’s greatest asset,” Wahood said.
Based on his experience in the Summer Scholars Program, Wahood decided to do research the following summer in the Northwestern Medicine Department of Dermatology. He has since published one paper based on his work there, and he has a second paper under review.
“My experience at the Hassenfeld Institute helped me so much with finding research opportunities,” Wahood said.
Wahood graduates from Brown this spring and will matriculate into the Warren Alpert Medical of Brown University after taking a gap year. While Wahood has been attending classes virtually from his home in the Chicago suburbs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has also been studying bioethics from the Islamic perspective at a local seminary. He plans to continue his seminary studies for a year before attending medical school.
“This will allow me to bring a fresh, new perspective to medicine that will supplement Western bioethics,” Wahood said.
Wahood has not yet decided on a medical specialty. He continues to enjoy research and credits the Hassenfeld Summer Scholars Program with helping him to build his research skills.
“The Hassenfeld Institute gave me a platform to continue doing research, whether it’s in bioethics or dermatology,” Wahood said. "Who knows what’s next!”
Learn more about the Hassenfeld Institute's Autism Initiative.