The Destiny I Never Dreamt of

Tulasi Talluri is an undergraduate researcher in MSU’s Department of Reproductive and Developmental Sciences.

At the crossroads of service and innovation is where I see myself practicing medicine - or, more accurately, at the plaza. That is, instead of picking a path dedicated to either entirely service or research, I will integrate the two facets as a physician-scientist. The power of discovery and the art of caring for others must be homogenized in medical care, and I aspire to do so throughout my life. Much of my college career has been dedicated to scientific research for this reason, although I was not sure of what exactly I wanted to research until a couple years ago.

 

At the end of my sophomore year, I fortuitously stumbled upon Dr. Hoffmann’s lab as I was searching for new undergraduate research opportunities. The goal of our lab is to study neuroendocrinology and circadian rhythms. We look at how changes in daylight can impact our body’s activity with regards to reproduction and neurological function. My previous endeavors allowed me to explore mast cell physiology and neuropharmacology, but this lab had a personal motivation for me; after a personal endocrine disorder scare, I knew that I wanted to study circadian rhythms and reproductive science.

In order to further study endocrine disorders, and find novel treatments, we need to have a better understanding of genes that control both circadian rhythm generation and the endocrine system, specifically fertility. I immediately got started on investigating the role of the transcription factor, Vax1, in infertility in mice. It was love at first microscope slide, as I observed the stunning purple and pink stains that illuminated the brains. I continued working on this project for about a year, and recently received the Endocrine Society’s Summer Research Fellowship award.

I applied to this fellowship hoping to gain more experience and knowledge regarding neuroendocrinology, but I gained that and so much more. It was an honor to present as well as learn about the intriguing work of other fellows in SRF, hear from mentors and experts in medicine on how to build professional skills, write resumes/cover letters, and a solid mentor/mentee relationship. Throughout the fellowship, I was able to work full time in the lab and develop novel approaches to studying impaired circadian and reproductive function through a modified mouse model. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity given to me by the Endocrine Society because I was not only able to continue my research and pursue answers to my questions, but I was also encouraged to ask new questions and consider alternate explanations for the phenotypes I was observing.

As a Midwesterner who has lived in Michigan all her life, I have personally observed the impacts of day length on neurological function, and this opportunity with the SRF and Dr. Hoffmann’s lab has reinforced my desire to be a physician-scientist, along with vital knowledge and unique perspective on seasonality and circadian rhythms in human physiology wherever I go.