August 24, 2017

As an intern at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Matthew Chrencik ’17 benefitted from some opportunities usually only afforded to medical residents.

In the Department of Transplant Surgery, Chrencik worked on an independent research project to detect chimerism—specifically the ratio of donor cells to recipient cells—in animal models after transplantation.

“I tried to establish a new method that was more reliable to detect post-transplant Matt Chrencik in the lab chimerism,” Chrencik, a biology major from Finksburg, Md., said. “That ratio can be indicative of the success of the transplant.”

In an effort to do this, Chrencik amplified portions of DNA to determine which animal model the DNA came from. The number of times each DNA segment was sequenced was proportional to the starting amount of DNA from each animal. This ratio was then used to determine chimerism.

This was Chrencik’s second year at the university working on chimerism research. “I had to do a lot of independent research on my own,” Chrencik said. “I have a mentor who taught me a lot about this field in my first year of research, but now he’s a surgical resident, focused on patient care, so I had to be able to know what I was doing in the lab, and based on my results, be able to alter them.”

In addition to his lab work, Chrencik had the opportunity to observe liver and kidney transplants.

“It was really cool,” Chrencik admitted. “You kind of realize how many people are behind the scenes; there can be 20 people involved. And they’re doing something to save this person’s life.”

“Susquehanna instilled in me a sense of independence and helped me develop the critical thinking skills required of this internship,” he said. “Because of Susquehanna, I feel confident and know that I will be prepared for life after college.”