Guest Speaker at Investigations in Epidemiology

In order to educate students about the scope of the field of disease prevention and cure research, the Investigations in Epidemiology club hosted a speaker during eighth period on Wednesday, April 18.

The event featured Dr. Harris Bernstein, a senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health.

“We saw that he had done a variety of research,” club officer Aastha Mistry said. “And [we] thought that he would be a good example of the different paths you can take in a career related to epidemiology. He had also done college guest lectures too and so we thought he would be a good speaker for the club.”

Bernstein, who has a B.A. from Johns Hopkins and a Ph. D from the Massachusetts institute of Technology, works at the NIH in research to understand the movement of proteins across the membranes of bacteria cells.

“Dr. Bernstein talked about his basic research around epidemiology and also delved a little bit into how proteins are transported across the cell membranes of pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria,” Mistry said.

Bernstein emphasized the difference between basic research, which is research stemming from curiosity and meant to answer questions about the unknown, and applied research, which is research meant to solve a specific problem in the real world.

“He [Dr. Bernstein] was specifically talking about the importance and relevance of basic research,” Investigations in Epidemiology club member Nitin Elavarasu said. “And really curiosity in general, how just understanding the world around us and how it works, from the smallest atoms and cells to the largest celestial bodies, can be useful.”

“it was very interesting,” Elavarasu continued. “not only for just the intrinsic benefit of knowing about it and knowledge in general but also because this basic information can be used in myriad ways to create extremely life-changing and monumental differences in daily life, and just the world in general and I just found that interesting.”