1. Research Experience 1 – Truskey Lab – Pratt Fellows
    • Brief Description + Relation to GC Focus: The accelerated aging disease, Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome (HGPS), is a rare disorder caused by a mutation in the LMNA gene that leads to a truncated and farnesylated form of the protein progerin.  This condition primarily affects cells of the mesenchymal lineage, which ultimately manifests as patients appearing significantly older than they are (alopecia, growth retardation, decreased bone density, etc.).  The primary cause of death of those suffering from HGPS is atherosclerosis occurring at 10-15 years of age. This indicates that blood vessels, particularly vascular smooth muscle cells, are key sites where the disorder is manifested. The Truskey lab aims to build on previous work with tissue engineered blood vessels by using induced pluripotent stem-cell (iPSC)-derived vascular smooth muscle cells from progeria patients in the fabrication of vascular constructs. My project is focused on evaluating characteristics of iPSC-derived smooth muscle and endothelial cells from progeria and healthy donors and their responses to various drug treatments. By replicating the disorder’s effects on the circulatory system in vitro and testing various progeria treatments on these constructs, better drugs can be engineered to improve our understanding of progeria. 
    • [PICTURE]
    • Supervisor Name: Dr. George Truskey
    • Mentor: Nadia Abutaleb
    • Start Date: 02/2021
    • End Date: 05/2023
    • Total Hours To Date: 570

2. Research Experience 2 – Bass Connections: Alzheimer’s Disease – Exercise Therapy and Brain Networks

    • Brief Description + Relation to GC Focus: I will be using voxel-based analyses to compare mouse brain images, identifying regions of the brain that relate to different cognitive traits. fMRI experiments will also be performed on the mouse brain and I will also potentially use voxel-based analyses to analyze this data. I will also be investigating the symmetry of mouse brain tracts. The goal of this project is to examine image-based biomarkers of brain plasticity, induced by exercise, or conversely, by a high fat diet. These biomarkers include volume and image texture changes and can reflect in network-based biomarkers. Our applications target the APOE genotype-specific effects that are replicated in mouse models of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This project is significant because it investigates brain network changes, providing potentially new biomarkers for neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. 
    • [PICTURE]
    • Supervisor Name: Dr. Alexandra Badea
    • Start Date: 08/2021
    • End Date: 05/2022
    • Total Hours Estimated: 350