Built amongst incredible cityscape and river views, community centers, and glass structures, The Roberts Center for Pediatric Research – located alongside the Schuylkill River – has served as the hub for the Center for Autism Research as well as many other biomedical health centers across the city of Philadelphia. This research center is part of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that provides workspaces for funded projects, businesses, health facilities, and clinical research.
Despite being newly innovated, they have already made large strides in genetic diagnostics, counseling, development, therapeutics, and clinical support for CHOP patients. Fortunately students like myself have had the opportunity to volunteer for clinical studies in the Roberts Center for Pediatrics and contribute to the development and administration of health projects and research. Despite the many steps that are required for the progression of the Center for Autism Research (CAR), not many high schoolers are aware of their importance and relevance of their role in driving these studies towards success.
This month at CAR, I have gotten the opportunity to work alongside Calli Faulk (firstname.lastname@example.org), one of the research technicians of our team who has guided me through my journey as their first student clinical research assistant. Our clinical study has consisted of using computer vision and natural language analysis to develop more accurate behavioral measurements of patients with the primary goal being able to devise valid, objective measures of social and emotional behaviors.
As an NTP assistant, I have been in charge of recording and storing observational data of participants into the REDCap system: an easy-to-use management of data collection. These data entries collectively work to predict symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as characteristics of autism (ASD) amongst children. This process will be essential for the conduction of diagnoses of ASD symptomatic children in future patients.
While these activities only mark the beginning of my volunteer contributions in psychopathology, I will garner more experience in the summer as I get more involved with CAR’s clinical and experimental training. It’s important to keep in mind that although this opportunity was hard to seek out as a high school student, I strive to make clinical research experience more inclusive and accessible to other 11th and 12th grade high schoolers who are passionate about behavioral sciences, psychology, and biology. Students’ role in clinical research (specifically high schoolers) play an imperative role in the progress of studies such as the ones in the Center for Autism Research, Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine, and the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.
For more information to serve as a student trainee for Autism Research, students and undergrads can access the application through the Student Trainees for CAR Application.