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St. Olaf student’s clinical research published in medical journal

As part of the Rockswold Health Scholars program, Beret Amundson ’15 (right) worked alongside Hennepin County Medical Center clinical chemist Fred Apple (left) to study the efficacy of the tests hospitals use to determine if a patient has experienced a heart attack. Their findings were recently published in a medical journal.

The research that Beret Amundson ’15 did this summer as part of a St. Olaf College internship program at Hennepin County Medical Center has been published in the journal of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine.

As one of six students participating in the Rockswold Health Scholars program at HCMC, Amundson worked alongside clinical chemist Fred Apple to study the efficacy of the tests hospitals use to determine if a patient has experienced a heart attack.

Amundson worked as a research assistant in the Cardiac Biomarker Trials Laboratory. She examined immunoassays that hospitals use to measure the amount of cardiac troponin in a patient’s blood. Cardiac troponin is a protein released during and following a heart attack, so it acts as an indicator of a heart attack.

“This research is important because it allows hospitals to determine which immunoassay is best going to suit their needs, and which will give the most accurate results when determining whether a patient has had a heart attack,” says Amundson.

Apple and Amundson worked closely together throughout the summer. Apple recommended relevant clinical chemistry literature and discussed articles, the progress of her research, and the process of writing a paper on her findings. Her research was published in the October issue of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine.

The Rockswold Health Scholars program was created through the support of Gaylan Rockswold ‘62, a highly distinguished neurosurgeon at the hospital who wanted to give students the opportunity to work with physicians, research scientists, and administrators in a variety of departments.

He and his wife, Mary Garnaas Rockswold ‘63, established an endowment to help fund the summer program, which aims at providing undergraduate students with training and immersion.

Students are invited to attend lectures and conferences typically reserved for medical school students and residents. They also get the opportunity to practice simulations and even watch doctors perform surgeries.

Through this program, Amundson came to recognize the need for collaboration between researchers and physicians or other healthcare providers.

“The implementation of findings of scientific research is necessary in order for health care to be more efficient, effective, and affordable,” she says.

Amundson will graduate this spring with majors in chemistry and biology. She plans to begin medical school after she takes a gap year — during which she hopes to conduct further research in the field of chronic disease.

“Though I ultimately want to be a physician, I hope that I will be able to do clinical research throughout my career,” she says.