Clara Lloyd

Clara Lloyd

A Transformational Project Reveals a New Focus

Clara Lloyd

Clara’s keen interest in genetics was first sparked during her Biology studies at Cegep, and further deepened following a course she took at Bishop’s with Dr. Patrick Bergeron. She became particularly interested in how identifying and researching the genes that are responsible for a particular disease or condition can help scientists and medical professionals learn more about neurological development overall.

Clara’s continued studies and natural interest pointed her in the direction of a potential career in genetic counselling, but finding a specialized internship to further her knowledge proved challenging. A chance connection through Clara’s other passion – sailing – introduced her to the work of Dr. Myriam Srour, a pediatric neurologist and clinician-scientist working with the Montreal Children’s Neurogenetics and Brain Malformation clinics.

One of Dr. Srour’s research areas is Congenital Mirror Movement (CMM) disorder, a condition in which intentional movements on one side of the body are mirrored by involuntary movements on the other side. “During my internship this summer at McGill’s superhospital, I conducted computer-based research on four specific genes in congenital mirror movement, learning how they interact and what they have to do with nervous system development,” Clara describes.

She then worked with new software to design primers. “Primers are essentially very specific blocks of DNA that stick to the sample DNA and guide the enzymes into sequencing the desired area,” explains Clara. “I made two primers per block of DNA that I wanted to be copied; once enough copies were made, we could sequence the DNA to check for mutations.”

Clara also participated in a poster presentation on her gene-testing research and shared the presentation, as well as more about her overall internship experience, with the students in Dr. Chamoux’s animal physiology course.

She embraced the internship as an opportunity for self-discovery. “Although I began the summer with my previous career goal of becoming a genetics counsellor in mind, ultimately what the internship helped me realize is that after graduation, I want to attend med school,” says Clara. “The B.E.S.T. Project Fund is an excellent opportunity to put your career aspirations to the test. It shows just how much Bishop’s believes in students and wants them to seek out opportunities in support of their goals,” she affirms.