I am working with Dr. Anna Keyte in the Kirby Lab in the Pediatrics Department and studying heart as well as craniofacial development.
Heart defects are among the most common birth defects, and a large proportion of congenital heart disorders are neural crest-related developmental defects. The neural crest cells are a transient, migratory cell population that gives rise to diverse cell types. The cardiac neural crest cells are required for proper remodeling of the arch arteries and correct alignment of the arterial pole of the heart. Dr. Keyte’s main hypothesis is that the neural crest cells modulate levels of FGF8 in the pharynx via endocytosis, which is required for normal cardiovascular development. The primary aims of this research is to determine the effects of this endocytosis on FGF8 as well as the consequences of altering the endocytosis on development.
So far, I have been primarily working in histology where I have been preparing slides of chick embryos at different stages of development so that they can be analyzed by observing the presence of neural crest cells. I have begun to learn how to use the photographic microscope that can view the different stains that have been put on the slides. I have enjoyed working with Dr. Keyte, and she is always willing to help or explain things when I have questions. My first exposure to research has been very enlightening, and I am eager to see what the future holds!