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Green Templeton College | Oxford

Caroline YoungA microscopic world of floating monstrous creatures, -80C icy depths and online shopping sprees racking up thousands of dollars - all of these feature in the fascinating story of Green Templeton Clinical Medical student Caroline Young's research elective.

The in-depth account of her placement at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA, has won Caroline the GTC Emanoel Lee Essay Prize 2012.

Unusually, rather than spend her placement somewhere exotic, Caroline chose to work in a cancer lab, undertaking research into stem cells. Her project was to establish a protocol to detect the level of a protein using the analytical technique of Western Blotting, a first for the Zambidis laboratory where she was based for nine weeks.

Her report relates the highs and lows of her research: the initial, repeated failure of the time-consuming experiments, the crucial breakthrough, the pressure of running the experiment proper with just one chance to get it right, and finally the excitement of the long-awaited results.

Caroline says: "I embarked on my research elective hoping to gain some experience of wet lab scientific research, to review the literature and to plan and carry out a project, to gain insight into a career in academic medicine, to plug the research gap on my CV, to try and get my name on a paper and to forge research contacts for the future. All this I did.''

''By the end of the elective I was flying solo and relishing it. Looking back, I came a long way. It was a fantastic experience and I am incredibly grateful."

The judging panel praised Caroline's essay as "a critically self-aware piece of writing, rated highly both for its entertaining style and substance". A total of 15 GTC medical students entered the competition this year, with the winner receiving prize money of £200.

The Emanoel Lee Essay Prize is open to final-year clinical medics at Green Templeton, all of whom write a report following their final-year elective, as a condition of the travel grant awarded to them.

Emanoel Lee was a highly-gifted colo-rectal and breast surgeon with an international reputation for his many contributions to surgical techniques, teaching and research. He was a founding member of Common Room of Green College. The Prize was established by his widow Janine and his two sons Paul and Ruben.

Read Caroline Young's winning entry.