Internship of a Lifetime

After Ashley Radig ’16 was diagnosed with type-one diabetes, she dreamed of helping others with the disease. This summer, the biology major completed a 10-week research internship at Novo Nordisk Research Center in Seattle.

“It was a perfect opportunity to do research in one of my passions,” Radig says. Novo Nordisk is a multinational pharmaceutical company and leader in diabetes care. Radig landed the opportunity through the competitive, national Students with Diabetes internship program.

Ashley Radig spent the summer in Seattle working on diabetes research.

Ashley Radig spent the summer in Seattle working on diabetes research.

While in Seattle, Radig helped Novo Nordisk’s diabetic complications unit compile and review data from clinical trials. This research team is made up of scientists with more than 20 years’ professional experience. Novo Nordisk will use the data to identify or create a drug with potential for treating diabetic retinopathy (eye disease) and nephropathy (kidney disease).

“The internship was awesome — I had a blast,” Radig says. “I really enjoyed who I worked with, and I enjoyed what I did every day. I’ve had three people from the company say they would write recommendation letters for me for medical school.”

“I have had type I diabetes since I was 8, and ever since my diagnosis, I knew that I wanted to become a doctor and help kids like me.”

Ashley Radig ’16

Radig, who wants to become a pediatric endocrinologist, also gained understanding of new aspects of diabetes care. “I learned a lot about how drugs work and how they’re developed,” she says. “I think that will help integrate into everything else — I can have a bigger picture of how things work.”

For 15 years, Radig has also gained experience to relate to young diabetes patients. “It’s hard as a second grader to realize that’s something you’re going to have for the rest of your life,” she says of her diagnosis. “I wanted to be a role model for kids when I grew up — to show them that diabetes really doesn’t define your life.”

Because Radig plans to graduate in three years at Central, she also counts the Seattle internship as her experience abroad — 1,600 miles from hometown Pocahontas. “It was cool to be in a big city and have that experience. Seattle is so beautiful,” Radig says, “but I definitely missed Iowa.”

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