The past three weeks I interned at The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington D.C. The organization has long been an interest of mine, as they research and promote plant-based diets. Their clinical research team is continually performing studies on diet and its relationship to health. Currently the team is recruiting participants to find if there is a connection between eating a plant-based diet and diabetic neuropathy pain. Interesting stuff! The organization is active on the hill as well, working to pass legislation to help Americans eat healthier and support farmers who grow fruits and vegetables.
The other side of the organization works in research policy. They find and create alternative and more efficient laboratory testing methods. Their admirable goal is to make animal use in labs a thing of the past. Not that I didn’t agree with that mentality before starting my internship, but after listening to talks on technological breakthroughs and cheaper more effective alternative methods, I stand even firmer on my belief. A research fellow at the office gave a presentation on “Organ on a Chip”. It may be the science nerd in me, but this is seriously awesome. The Wyss Institute at Harvard has been awarded $37 million from the federal government to move the technology forward. It’s more reliable, more efficient, faster, cheaper, has endless possibilities, and no animals harmed! Check out a video explaining it here: http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpage/293/organs-on-a-chip
This past July I attended the International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain. Despite most of the information being way over my head (intended for all the physicians in the room), I had a great time. The conference was co-sponsored by PCRM. I got to meet some members of the team then, and met the rest upon my arrival at the office three weeks ago. The founder and president of the organization, Neal Barnard, greeted me when I first arrive. I knew it would prove to be a thrilling three weeks, and that it was.
As a nutrition intern I worked primarily on nutrition related topics, however I was surprised by the wide array of health topics I dabbled in. I conducted several literature reviews on holiday weight gain, colorectal cancer and process meat consumption, among many other topics. I wrote several articles to be added to various PCRM newsletters, learned all about the Weight Watchers Points Plus system, and now know way more about chain family restaurant menus than I ever needed to. 😉
I arrived at the perfect time of year, able to attend their annual holiday party! The local organic vegan food was delicious and I have no words for the vegan cannolis. Oh-My-Gosh. All the dessert was from Vegan Treats, check them out online to see where you can find them near you.
My weekends off were spent exploring our nation’s capital.
My first weekend I ran along the Capital Crest Trail which hugs the Potomac River and ends in Georgetown. The neighborhood was all decorated up for the holidays and M Street shops were bustling with business. The following weekend I took a trip downtown to The Natural History Museum.
I checked out the local food scene. District of Pi offers vegan pizza and the most delicious roasted veggie bruschetta.
My last stop was to the White House to see it at night. It’s hard to see, but there were some decorated trees up by the house.