Photo submitted by: Sarah Romans
Most high school students can’t say that they are in the middle of conducting pediatric seizure disorder research, but one St.Paul Academy and Summit School student can.
Senior Sarah Romans works at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St.Paul with SPA parent and pediatric neurologist Dr. Shani Norberg. Romans goes to the hospital’s research lab whatever school days she can, if only for a few hours. “My free period and my research period lineup, so on most days I have my free period, lunch, tutorial, and research period to spend at the hospital,” Romans said.
Upon pending Institutional Review Board approval (in place for research on humans), Romans will begin researching ketogenic diets or “keto” diets on seizure patients and whether or not propofol is safe for use on these patients. “A ketogenic diet is basically a diet that is high in fat and very low in carbs and protein,” Romans said, “and propofol is an anesthetic used in surgeries that is low in carbs, so its a good choice for keto patients because it won’t throw off their diet and cause them to have seizures,” Romans added.
Her goal is to find if propofol is safe for keto patients. “I found one case study of a patient who was on the [keto] diet and was put on propofol, and it worked well, and another where it was fatal,” Romans said.
As she can only do non-human research before her IRB approval, Romans thinks the experience is “very interesting and it is cool that I have access to these different things,”.