Molly Long spent her final summer as a Virginia Commonwealth University student surrounded by psychoactive drugs, but the 22-year-old wasn’t getting high. She was helping to develop a treatment for people who have late-stage HIV and AIDS.
From May through August, Long studied how the ingredients in marijuana could protect the brain from the spread of the HIV virus. “It’s not a cure to HIV or AIDS,” the clinical laboratory sciences major said. “It’s just a form of treatment for cognitive issues.”
The work was done under an undergraduate research and creative scholarship summer fellowship that is administered through the undergraduate research opportunities program and the VCU Office of Research and Innovation.
Molly learned a lot of laboratory techniques through this fellowship that she didn’t get as a student,” said Melissa Jamerson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, VCU School of Allied Health Professions, and affiliate faculty in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, VCU School of Medicine. Jamerson mentored Long through the fellowship, which allows faculty members and students to partner on funded research in their fields. The idea behind the fellowship is to give undergraduates early hands-on experience under the guidance of faculty members with the goal of making significant progress throughout the summer on formal, structured research.