Intern Spotlight: ECMO interns Jasnoor Singh and Kristopher Urrea

August 24, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

Medicine is becoming increasingly advanced every day. New discoveries are always being made while doctors perform life-saving surgeries they might not have been able to a decade or two ago.

Two U-M students are making their own strides in the medical world as interns in the ECMO (Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) lab — Jasnoor Singh and Kristopher Urrea.

Singh finished his undergrad in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering while minoring in multidisciplinary design. Urrea graduated two years prior, majoring in biomolecular science and minoring in Spanish and sociology of health and medicine.

This summer, the pair has worked together on creating an organ banking system — meaning organs are preserved for a long period of time. Doing this can drastically improve transplant conditions for future patients.

“Our focus is to address the supply and demand for organs. Right now, that demand is not being met,” said Urrea. “There are time constraints for preserving organs, so our job has been to create a way preserve them for longer in order to address the demand.”

The two have also worked on heart perfusion, coming up with a way to preserve hearts for 30+ hours. Previously, they could only be preserved for around six.

“This experience is very diverse,” said Singh. “I did not expect to be doing some of the things I do right now. It is definitely a continuous learning process.”

In the department, you often start off as a volunteer. From there, you are integrated in and can work alongside resident surgeons for in-depth projects. This includes learning more about things like anesthesia and surgical techniques.

“There are incredible, brilliant minds that offer their time and mentorship to us, and that is one of my favorite things about interning here,” said Urrea.

The two interns have worked over the summer with the director of the ECMO lab, Robert Bartlett, M.D., who is credited as the “Father of ECMO.” “He takes time to talk with everyone, so it is awesome working under him,” said Urrea.

In the future, Singh hopes to get into medical school and eventually go into physical medicine and rehabilitation. With his engineering background, he said he has also considered starting a medical device company. On the other hand, Urrea plans to stay in surgery.

“I love the aspect of being able to see the results of your work almost immediately after you finish,” he said.

This summer, the pair has been able to take “hands-on” to a whole new level, proving that the internship experience at Michigan Medicine is more than just observation.