NIDA's Where Are They Now? Series: Finding a Good Support System

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A young man smiling, with glasses.

Ameya Deshmukh

SBB recently caught up with a few past winners of the NIDA Addiction Science Fair Award to find out what the teens are doing now. Not everyone has followed a science path, but they are all in college pursuing their interests. In this series, the winners offer advice for today’s high school students trying to figure out what to do after graduation.

“Having a good support system at home is a major plus,” said Ameya Deshmukh. The Ohio State University sophomore earned NIDA Addiction Science Fair Award recognition for his high school science fair project researching possible stop-smoking medications. Ameya’s parents are both researchers who have encouraged him to pursue his interests in biomedical science research. A high school advisor also played a part in helping him get experience in his chosen field.

For Ameya, winning the NIDA award as a high school junior enabled him to take a summer internship with NIDA’s Intramural Research Program (IRP), studying applied research on nicotine addiction using animal models.

A text box with motivational quotes.

Discovering Lessons for Life

Drawing on this experience has been helpful, he said. Ameya is now studying biochemistry and economics, combining an interest in business and research, working in cancer research. At Ohio State, he works in a lab that is trying to develop a vaccine to treat a virus that can lead to lymphoma under some circumstances. “I was inspired to get into research because I saw that having the ability to develop drugs and vaccines and medical technologies can make a real difference in people’s lives.” Beyond the lab, Ameya says he would like one day to be able to commercialize his research, perhaps developing products for the marketplace.

He noted, “Working in cancer research is exciting; it’s really a moving field right now. At Ohio State, I have gotten the opportunity to work under the CEO of one of the leading research hospitals in the country on a vaccine development project.”

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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