Congratulations to Osama Rehman, a Vanier College Science student who completed a summer research internship at McGill University in the Chemistry Department thanks to a grant provided by Vanier College. Originally, the grant was to come from the FRQNT, the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies, but at the last minute the government cancelled the grant program and the funding. Fortunately, Vanier College was nonetheless able to offer Osama a $2,500 grant, which enabled him to do the internship after all.
“Student research is very important to us at Vanier,” says Academic Dean, Danielle Lafaille. “It’s part of our new 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, and we were very pleased to be able to provide Osama with this one-time research grant.”
During the internship which lasted nine weeks, Osama worked under Dr. Nicolas Moitessier and Stéphane De Cesco of McGill University on the development of three enzyme inhibitors as potential cancer therapeutics.
Working at McGill exposed Osama to research activity and data collection and allowed him to use sophisticated instruments and learn techniques that are not taught in Cegep, such as sample preparation for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), thin layer chromatography (TLC), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and compound purification using column chromatography.
“This internship allowed me to understand research like never before,” says Osama. “As a student at Vanier you might work on a research project but it’s something you do in your spare time. Over the summer it was full-time – seven hours a day, every day, with a team of 10 to 15 people, and that gives you a different perspective. I learned new things every day and came to understand how much intellectual work goes into research. This year I’m taking organic chemistry at Vanier. I have a good feel for what I’m doing in a lab and I feel I’m ahead of the curve because I covered many of the techniques at McGill. So it definitely helped me.”
“This internship also made me realize that scientific research does not stop at data analysis. It involves life-long learning, strong communication skills and a passion for research and development itself. On a personal level, I learned that sometimes failure is more beneficial than success because success can stop you from discovering your limitations and weaknesses, whereas failure naturally leads to a desire to understand the root cause of that failure which in turn ignites one to improve and succeed.”