Second Year Students

Second Year Students
Gianluca Arianna
(Title Missing)
In nanomedicine, nanoparticles are utilized for therapeutic strategies such as drug
transport and sensitization. One widely studied nanoparticle is the porphyrin, an aromatic
macrocycle, found naturally in hemoglobin and chlorophyll. Interactions of the electron
orbitals along covalent bonding sites in the molecule give the porphyrin its enhanced
optical properties and light absorption capabilities. Consequently, porphyrins have been
frequently used for photodynamic therapy (PDT) as sensitizers. PDT is a method of
cancer cell destruction in which cdells are destroyed by light radiation. Efficiency of PDT
is increased by metallization of the porphyrins to enhance light absorption. Future studies
will search for new methods to irradiate and functionalize porphyrins in order to increase
their efficiency.
Christine Berrios
PKG Inhibitor Medication to Cease Chronic Pain
Pain that persists longer than the natural course of healing for a particular type of
injury or disease is also known as chronic pain. A protein known to be involved in
sustained chronic pain is protein kinase G (PKG). Past research has demonstrated that
PKG is a positive injury signal in sensory neurons and responds to both nerve injury and
inflammation. PKG has also been shown to be a necessary element for the activation of
long-term hyperexcitability (LTH) and for the perception of problems such as
hyperalgesia and allodynia. Ongoing research has also shown PKG to be involved in
long-term potentiation (LTP). By inhibiting PKG in sensory neurons, chronic pain should
cease. Current research is aimed at finding a functional PKG inhibitor. Once identified,
researchers plan to create a medication for those suffering from chronic pain and other
related illnesses. In order to achieve this, researchers must first investigate if the
medication reaches the cell. This project will utilize a cell based assay to accomplish this
preliminary objective.
Diana Capalbo
Alzheimer’s Disease and Neuroinflammation
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) causes apoptosis in the brain and amyloid-beta plaque
build up. Current research demonstrates that neuroinflammation is linked to the initiation
and progression of AD. Minocycline is an anti-inflammatory drug, capable of increasing
cognitive function in transgenic AD mice. The number of activated microglia also
increases with the use of minocycline. DSP-4 is a molecule that can alter
neuroinflammation through its reduction of noradrenalin (NA), a neurotransmitter in the
CNS that can constrict blood vessels. Through administration of minocycline and DSP-4,
neuroinflammation could be controlled. Future research will investigate CPG treatment
?????? could reduce amyloid plaque burden. This could lead to an efficient treatment
for AD patients.
Christina Casanova
CCS is Not Essential in SOD1 FALS Mediation, While Overexpression in G93A-SOD1
Mice Leads to Accelerated Neurological Deficits (MUST CUT)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease, marked by
the progressive degeneration of motor neurons within the Central Nervous System
(CNS). While the cause of apoptotic neurons had been linked to atrophy, weakness, and
fasculations, researchers then aimed to further investigate how gene expression of mutant
superoxide dismutase (SOD1) would contribute to their degeneration. Responsible for
destroying free superoxide radicals in the body, mutations in this gene have been
implicated as the foundation for the familial form of this disease. Inside the nucleus of the
motor neurons, mSOD1 tampers with DNA/RNA metabolism, and then accumulates and
creates toxic radicals. A stress is thus created within the mitochondria, leading to
excessive exotoxicity and apoptosis. Copper chaperone for SOD1 (CCS), although not
found to play a role in the onset of ALS, is needed for copper incorporation into the cell.
Its mechanisms have been an area of investigation in relationship to its role in superoxide
expression. Further investigation of the underlying mitochondrial mechanisms of this
mutation could lead to treatments that delay ALS progression.
Jennifer Eng
Visual Working Memory (EXPAND)
Visual working memory (VWM) allows visual information to be retained after a
stimulus has disappeared. VWM allows for the distinction of changing environments.
The VWM system provides temporary storage and manipulation of information that is
necessary for complex cognitive tasks such as language comprehension, learning,
reasoning, and problem solving. Given its limited capacity, the VWM is able to retain
only the most important information. Past studies have shown that this capacity could be
affected by practice and learning. The familiarity with visual objects has been shown to
have a limited effect on working memory performance. Future research will test the
boundary conditions through which long-term familiarity enhances visual working
memory performance and attempt to determine how different perceptual properties of
visual stimuli such as their spatial-temporal and featured properties contribute to VWM
Eric Lo
Role of Spo11 Beta and Related Proteins in Recombination Meiosis
Meiosis is the essential process required for diploid eukaryotic cells to generate
gametes, or sex cells needed for sexual reproduction. Double-stranded breaks (DSB), a
type of DNA damage that fractures the DNA strands, actually have been found to initiate
meiosis in yeast cells and to propagate one of the hallmark features of this process,
homologous recombination. Spo11 is one of the chief proteins that produce DSBs, but
past studies have shown that only its Spo11 alpha units are directly involved in creating
DSBs. Its beta units still have undocumented roles, potentially crucial ones. Future
research hopes to incorporate the Spo11 beta protein into mice both to test its effects and
to potentially discover hidden proteins with which it interacts.
Marina Makarious
Calcium-dependence of Agonist-induced Trafficking of Neuronal Calcium Channels
Calcium influx through voltage-dependent calcium channels triggers the release
of neurotransmitters. Mutations in these channels have been shown to lead to chronic
migraines and epilepsy. G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are membrane proteins
that transmit signals into the cell and help to regulate calcium influx into neurons by
modulating calcium channel activity. It has been reported that GPCRs can modify the
number of calcium channels in the membrane by controlling channel trafficking. These
calcium sensor proteins include calmodulin and NCS-1. Future research will investigate
the hypothesis that NCS-1 modulates channel activity through the regulation of its
Nicole Rebusi
Study of the State of the Economy of the United States Using Gross State Products (GSP)
in a Similarity Index.
Economic development within the United States is not comparable in all states.
Economic growth in the US is shown to generally progress from an economy dependent
on raw goods to an economy that is dependent on manufactured goods. However, the
final stage in the United States economic development does not rest on manufactured
goods, but rather on services. The Similarity Index will show that all three stages of
development currently exist in the United States and that economies move progressively
through these stages. A similar study was attempted by the founder of the Similarity
Index study. However, his study used the indicative income source. Given that income
source is a volatile factor, this study in its future research will utilize the gross state
product (GSP) to replace income source. GSP is a more reliable indicator, provided by
the Bureau of Economics. An analysis of the top five, mid-five, and the bottom five states
will be performed. The analysis is expected to confirm that the economic development in
the US shifts its dependency consistently through the stages of natural resources
manufacturing, and finally services.
Krishan Sharma
Using BMP-7 to Induce the Formation of Osseous Tissue from Skeletal Muscles as a
New Alternative to Bone Grafting
Over 800,000 bone grafting procedures are performed in the United States
annually, creating a demand for viable alternatives to autogenous bone, the grafting
standard in osseous repair. Bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP-7) has recently been
discovered to cause the formation of osseous tissue from derived skeletal muscle cells. It
has also been discovered, however, that BMP-7 exposure must occur in vivo, and thus
require bioactive scaffolds as a medium. Poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLAGA) is a
scaffold that has been used heavily in tissue engineering due to its unique features. These
include its biocompatibility, biodegradability, and osteoconductivity. Past research has
delivered BMP-7 to muscle cells of various organisms via PLAGA to successfully induce
mineralization. Future research will apply BMP-7 to cells in a controlled manner in an
attempt to create new molars.