Depression from Two Angles

Echoing what everyone else has been saying: The chalk talks this week were great and I really enjoyed learning about everyone’s different labs! I felt like this was a good way to see the scope of BSURF with (almost) everyone working in different labs on a variety of topics. One big theme throughout the talks was the brain. Alie’s research in the Dzirasa lab was in this theme, using a technique called social defeat on the mouse model. This technique induces depression in the mouse model, the mice are treated with antidepressants, and then the brains are dissected to see if a certain protein is present. If this protein, EmCP2, is present in a brain treated with antidepressants and the model does not show signs of depression, this could be a big breakthrough in treating depression in humans! Mental illness is a difficulty many people face, and it was especially interesting to see the different ways researchers at Duke are tackling this issue. We also got to hear from Annika who is researching depression in the mouse model using the social defeat technique from a different angle: the gut. Specifically, Annika is looking at how the micro-biome in the gut may lead to lower levels of serotonin in the brain, which may be a cause of depression. Both viewpoints on depression allow us to see the body as an intricate system and allows us to see how these systems interact, which I thought was very interesting. The two talks also made me think of my own research with baboons (explained in my last blog post), as we start with behavioral data and work backwards to hormone concentrations in the organism. In both Annika and Alie’s lab, they seem to be starting within the subject and seeing how an internal change may affect the external behavior. Again, I really enjoyed hearing all the chalk-talks, and they really broadened my view as to what research can be! Thank you for the time and effort everyone put into their talks, and I really look forward to hearing more during the poster sessions!

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