First of all, I would like to say that everybody did a great job with their Chalk Talks and I really enjoyed this week of morning meetings. I know that we have gone in circles a lot of times telling people our names and our favorite animals and what lab we are working in, but this was the first time we got to talk about our research in depth with everybody in BSURF. I think one of the reasons that BSURF is such a cool program is that there are so many different types of research being done by everybody in the program so we can really get a good idea about what kind of research opportunities there are just within Duke. These talks really showed that there is so much to learn and do in the world of science.
Alie’s talk was particularly interesting to me because she works in a neuroengineering lab, and as a Pratt star of course that would peak my interest. Alie’s lab focuses on using psychiatric neuroengineering to study and provide potential treatments for mental illnesses and Alie’s particular project is looking at the involvement of MeCP2 in anti-depressant treatment of socially defeated mice. Alie is trying to figure out whether MeCP2, which is necessary for the proper function of nerve cells, is phosphorylated when mouse models are given imipramine (an antidepressant drug), because the phosphorylation of MeCP2 is shown to have antidepressant effects. Alie explained that she is using the social defeat method to make mice depressed and then treating mice with different amounts of imipramine to see if they are less depressed and whether their MeCP2 levels increase. I think Alie did a great job with her presentation (as did everybody!!) and I really liked learning about her work.
I also did some of my own googling to learn more about Alie’s lab because I was so interested and the work they do there is pretty damn cool. Her PI, Dr. Dzirasa, has this goal of making a pace maker, which is typically used for hearts, for the brain to treat psychiatric disorders. This is the kind of work that is using engineering to solve medial problems in the work that made me interested in biomedical engineering in the first place.