Lab Rats…

Every 40 seconds, someone has had a stroke in the United States [1]. This occurs when an obstruction in the blood vessels prevents the brain from getting ample oxygen and nutrients, causing a cavity of dead tissue in the brain. This brain tissue has a limited capacity to regrow, and the resulting cavity is lacking in blood vessels and neuronal connections.

The Segura lab is leading in this work, as they’ve come up with various hydrogel networks that carry growth factors (amongst other things) to promote the regrowth of this dead brain tissue. We use mice–model organisms–to study the impact of these gels, meaning I give a bunch of mice some strokes for the greater progress of science. I’ve been part of over 60 mice surgeries since I’ve been in the lab, and the general process includes anesthetizing the mice, injecting a substance to induce the formation of free radicals that can cause blood clots, projecting a laser onto specific portions of the open skull to induce stroke, and injecting the hydrogel into the stroke cavity a few days later. The mice are only partially impaired, and seem active immediately after inducing strokes, unlike human patients who need countless rehabilitation and medical attention. The mice will be sacrificed at predetermined time points and brain slices will be studied to determine the impact of the gels on the regeneration of blood vessels and neuronal growth.

I’m excited to be a part of this lab and collaborate with other researchers to study strokes. Blacks are twice as likely to have strokes than whites and have the highest death rate afterward [2]. I know of at least four people in my family who’ve had strokes, so this research hits close to home. I also hope to shadow some behavioral studies at the lab with the aims of studying the impact of strokes in general, as well as the use of hydrogel on the behavior of the mice. I’m just really happy to be a part of the Segura lab!

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