Varicose veins, twisted and swollen veins just below the surface of the skin, can cause pain, ulcers and even blood clots. Elisa MacColl ’16, a biology major, is spending the summer interning for Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, studying varicose veins. Her internship is supported by the Jeffrey Science Fund.
MacColl is working with Dr. Raouf Khalil, principal investigator at BWH’s Vascular Surgery Research Lab. “I’m writing a review paper on matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), their role in the pathogenesis of varicose veins (VVs), and the potential uses of MMP inhibitors as treatments for VVs,” MacColl explained.
MacColl first became interested in varicose veins after writing a mock grant with detailed background and methods sections for her Cellular Neurobiology course in the fall. “I then designed potential studies that could further research in this field,” she continued, “and upon completing the paper, I was hooked.”
Looking through the works she cited, MacColl decided to email the person she referenced most. It was this person who put her in contact with Khalil, who later offered her a position in his lab. Her day-to-day work includes “researching new sources, synthesizing the ideas, designing figures and tables, and meeting one-on-one with Dr. Khalil to go over [her] work.”
Of particular interest to MacColl are the molecular mechanisms which lead to various diseases. “Varicose veins are present in my family, so it is really interesting to understand them at the molecular level,” she revealed. Hoping to pursue a career in the medical field, she said that “synthesizing and summarizing the information from many sources in order to write the paper is also a great experience.”
Elisa MacColl is a resident of Rydal, Pa., and a graduate of Abington Senior High School.