First off, everyone’s projects sound so interesting! I’m such a nerd but it was so cool to finally get a glimpse of what everyone else is working on this summer. From heart tissue regeneration to brain technology that can help paraplegics walk, BSURF fellows are working on some really awesome stuff. One of the talks I found especially intriguing was Chad’s project on enteroendocrine cells and neurons. As a huge foodie, the topic of how the gut and brain interact is something I’m really interested in (quick deviation for a cool article about there being taste receptors in the gut: https://flavourjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2044-7248-4-14), so it was exciting to learn about some of the research happening in that area. Enteroendocrine cells are cells in the gut that have projections called “neuropods” that are similar to the axon in a neuron, leading to the question of whether the enteroendocrine cells are able to communicate with nerve cells via their unique anatomy. Chad’s project is focusing on proving that a connection between these neuropods and nerves in the gut exist. Hormones are typically responsible for sending messages about whatever is going on in the GI tract to the brain, so it’s fascinating that there is possibly a way for the gut to communicate directly with the brain. It would be interesting to also know why such direct communication is necessary, along with the type of communication being conveyed — is it about pain, fullness, etc.? — and how that might be applied in the future in terms of human health.
Once again, I truly enjoyed listening to everyone’s talks this weeks. Thanks for sharing your research!