Exploring neuroscience

Dhruval Thakkar ’22 deepens commitment to medical career during Boston hospital internship

Curiosity about what occurs when health goes awry and a desire to be of service led Dhruval Thakkar ’22 to major in biology with a minor in psychology to prepare for a career in the medical field.

“Within my family, there have been a few medical incidents. Those events always left me with a couple questions: What is happening to them and how can I help? That was what initiated my passion for science, which led me to research things on my own and realize that I wanted to study the human body,” said Thakkar, who is vice president of the Pre-Health Society at Wheaton.

“My goal is to use medicine as a medium through which I can come true to my passion of helping folks—whether that is through doing research or through practicing medicine,” he said.

In pursuit of his passion, Thakkar has had the opportunity to explore one of his two interests (neurology and cardiology) during an ongoing internship. Starting last spring and continuing through the summer, he worked at Boston Children’s Hospital in the Faja Laboratory, located in the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience within the Department of Developmental Medicine. He recently found out that he can continue through the academic year.

The Faja Lab studies social and cognitive development of children and adults on the autism spectrum, using physiological and behavioral measures to understand how changes in the brain support social cognitive development, according to the website.

Thakkar’s duties included structuring study measures and visit protocols; analyzing electroencephalograms (EEG, a medical test that assesses the electrical activity in the brain) and other physiological data; updating patient records and coding videos of behavioral tasks.

The experience has provided him the opportunity to develop valuable skills in using highly sophisticated medical software, further zero in on his interest in the medical field and realize that he enjoys working with young children.

“This internship has allowed me to learn more about research in the behavioral and developmental sciences. This experience was the first full-time study that I had a chance to be a part of and was some of the most exciting and challenging research that I have done,” he said.

Dhruval Thakkar ’22, in addition to being vice president of the Pre-Health Society, is co-president of the Davis International House, a member of the Paraíso Latino dance team, and a teaching assistant for the ecology and nutrition lab.

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