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Parting Thoughts: Emma Rae

Palmer’s Research Honors Program attracted 7th trimester student, Emma Rae, to Palmer College.

A tough decision drew me to research, and research led me to the answers I needed.

Palmer College of Chiropractic student posing with research machine.

In elementary school, I suffered from osteochondritis dissecans and had to have several surgeries. This sparked my interest in the human body and how it operates, so I knew I wanted to pursue some form of health care. At the age of 15, I was diagnosed with a right thoracic idiopathic scoliosis. This experience nearly solidified my interest in chiropractic, and yet the idea of becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine still intrigued me.

Research was my avenue to keep both options open because I knew that having research experience would be beneficial were I to choose the chiropractic path—and ultimately chose that path, and Palmer, because of the opportunity to participate in its Research Honors Program.

Here at Palmer, I focused on projects involving spared sciatic nerve injury and its hyperalgesic result. My Research Honors project analyzed the presence of a peptide known as CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) and its receptor in the dorsal horn of the lumbar spinal cord and brain stem. I’ve had the opportunity to work under the mentorship of Stephen Onifer, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research) who has been monumentally impactful to my learning. He’s been able to explain complicated neuropathways tome by drawing up visuals and walking me through them. His ability to sketch these complex pathways quickly and casually on a blank piece of paper is impressive, and his clear understanding of neurotransmitters has inspired me to want to achieve the same.

I’m also involved in a scoping review with Robert Vining, D.C., DHSc. (Associate Dean of Clinical Research, Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research). I’m a reviewer, which means I’ve been reading articles and determining whether they’re eligible for the scoping review focused on pain neuroscience education. Dr. Vining has sparked paradigm shifts in my way of thinking about pain, how we perceive our pain, and how we can communicate with patients about pain.

With this newfound experience, my love for chiropractic is solidified. If you ask me, chiropractic is the perfect way to focus on patients’ values and help them achieve their health goals, while also allowing them to feel in control of their health.

MORE: Read more from Palmer Proud Magazine

Palmer College of Chiropractic is the first and largest chiropractic college. More chiropractors have graduated from Palmer than any other chiropractic institution. Interested in learning more about attending Palmer College? Visit