She Came From Lebanon To be a Medical Researcher

She Came From Lebanon To be a Medical Researcher


“My name is Nadiene Samara. I am at the NIH
at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. We provide
images so that people know how to design drugs or inhibitors for proteins that are involved
in disease. I actually grew up in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That’s where I then went
to junior high school. I then went to high school in Lebanon, in the Middle East. I also
went to college in Lebanon. I took a lot of different classes, economics, chemistry, sociology.
I had a lot of interests. I still do. I’m still very much that kind of person. I persevered
and I finished my degree. Afterwards, I went to grad school. I started off with a degree
in chemistry. As I went along, I realized it wasn’t for me. I started going to seminars
in structural biology. That’s what I do now. I’m a structural biologist. Basically I fell
in love. I thought that this was perfect for me.
My goal in lab, my goal in the work that I do is to try to take pictures, take photographs
on a atomic resolution of proteins in DNA. My day to day revolves around getting that
protein in DNA. What I do is, I make these proteins and DNA in the lab. I use a lot of
different methods to get that protein and DNA. What I do after that, is I take that
protein and DNA and I make crystals out of them, kind of like diamonds. I take those
protein and DNA crystals and I shoot x-rays of them. From the data that I get, I obtain
atomic resolution images. Basically, just pictures but at very, very, high resolution.
I get to see where all the atoms and the DNA and the protein are in those images. People
can use those images to design drugs and inhibitors of those proteins that can be used in clinical
trials or to try to see if they can inhibit those proteins that are involved in particular
diseases. On a day to day basis we make protein. We
make that protein from DNA. What we do is then we take that protein and manipulate it
so that we can get a picture of that protein. That picture is essentially at atomic resolution
so we can know where all the atoms in the protein are positioned. These are crystal
trays, right here. That’s where we grow our crystals. Looking for crystals to see if any
of the conditions that I have created will yield protein crystals. These crystals are
often quite beautiful. Not always but quite often. It’s quite exciting to see them. This
is what we call electron density. It is sort of telling you where the electrons are. That
gives you an idea of where the atoms are positioned. Based on the blue, which is the electron density,
we can tell which amino acid is sitting right here in the protein.
I have a very good relationship will all of my colleagues. We talk very often. We collaborate
on projects. It’s actually a very cordial environment, definitely not lonely. There’s
opportunity for lunch breaks, coffee breaks. I advise all young people, in college, to
really think about what they really enjoy doing more than anything else. Keep in mind,
always, always, always remember that from everything that goes wrong, you will learn
something. The more you learn, the better you will be in the future at what you do.

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