Support for young researchers is a key pillar of MCI’s mission. We find it so important that we have a variety of ways to get behind today’s brightest, including a fellowship program, internships, and our Trainee Success program. The Trainee Success program is one of our most versatile ways to help young researchers as it comes to meet students where they are. If they are in need of travel support, professional development, or other help, our Success Program can find a way to develop these young scientists in such a way that the future of male contraception is sustained for years to come.
One recent recipient of a Trainee Success grant is Alana Shunnarah, at Auburn University. She’s a pharmacy student and interested in male contraception. Together with her partner, Robin, they applied for a Trainee Success grant to write a paper that summarized the findings around natural products linked to non-hormonal reversible male contraception and submit that paper to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. Alana wrote some words about her experience below that highlight not only the process for their work, but also the valuable learnings she gained in the process.
Hello everyone! My name is Alana Shunnarah, and I am a third-year student at Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy. I also completed my undergraduate courses at Auburn. I am from Birmingham, Alabama where I live with my parents and two younger brothers. I have been exposed to pharmacy my entire life as my mother is a pharmacist. I was intrigued with her stories from work, and she influenced me to pursue this profession which I will be forever grateful for. I started working at the Kirklin Clinic Pharmacy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Hospital when I was 19 and I truly fell in love with the profession.
I knew that pharmacy was for me as it will allow me to combine my love for medicine with my passion to make patient’s happier and healthier. I was honored to be nominated to apply, interview, and receive the position for this research opportunity back in July of 2020. This is my first research project, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and expand my knowledge of pharmacy. I am thankful for my research partner, Robin Tumlinson, as we were able to learn and grow from of each other as we conquered through this project together.
The fall semester of 2020 consisted of navigating through the secondary literature databases, PubMed and SciFinder, searching for all literary articles concerning natural products for non-hormonal male contraception. We developed an Excel spreadsheet that consisted of compounds that have been studied in the past, listing details of each compound as well as any in vivo, in vitro, or human studies of the product. In the spring semester of 2021, we produced a manuscript with the information we found on these potential compounds.
We submitted the manuscript to the Journal of Natural Products in June of 2021 and were humbled when they accepted our literature review article and agreed to publish it. Robin and I are extremely excited that our hard work did not go unnoticed. It was a demanding year trying to balance this research project, schoolwork, and social time in the midst of a global pandemic, but we overcame all obstacles that stood in our way and developed an outstanding paper. I truly can say I learned a significant amount from this project that I know will help me in my pharmacy career.
Research is a challenging field to work in, especially since the data for male contraception has not had any success in the past. I believe this project helped me grow in the research aspect of pharmacy and I am appreciative of the skills and knowledge that I obtained. Dr. Calderón’s guidance was extremely helpful as she was a phenomenal mentor that kept us on the path towards success. I am also thankful for the Male Contraceptive Initiative for giving us the funds and opportunity to participate in a project that will better their organization. I hope our work will make a difference in the male contraception field of study and will ignite a spark for scientists to reopen the doors based on this newly summarized data.
I hope each of you will have the chance to read our work and enjoy it! Thank you.
Please visit this page to learn more about our Trainee Success Program: