In the past decade, Muslim discrimination has increased to an all-time high. Multiple research journals have identified that discrimination can have adverse health effects on people of certain races. While studies have predominantly been researched towards African-Americans and Hispanics, I questioned how discrimination affects Muslims around the United States. My project aimed to understand the effects discrimination against Muslims has on their overall mental and physical health. Using an online survey website, the first study took place approximately one week after the 2016 United States Presidential election to see if there were adverse health effects present in Muslims, due to the election results. With the same participants for the second study, four months after the election, we will be maintaining contact to see if more health issues, if any, have arisen or if the previous ones have continued on since then. Along with the Muslim participants, we included a significant subsample of non-Muslims to compare their health behaviors during both waves of the study. This project analyzes the issues of Muslim discrimination and how it affects the health of Muslims in the United States.
Regulation of Animal Vascular Tissue in a Brainstem Respiratory Center
Spring 2015-Fall 2016
Investigators: Dr. Daniel Mulkey (Associate Professor), Virginia Hawkins (Post doc fellow), and Samana Zaidi
I have worked in Dr. Daniel Mulkey’s lab investigating the processes involving regulation of animal vascular tissue in the brainstem respiratory center. We have been using mammalian models to conduct our research, therefore, rats and mice were utilized. Our research has been focused on chemoreception which is the mechanism by which breathing is regulated as levels of CO2 and H+ increase or decrease in tissues. An important region of interest of ours is the retrotrapezoid nucleus known as the RTN. Within the RTN there are neurons that control breathing. An important channel is contained within the RTN region known as the KCNQ channel. We focused on multiple KCNQ channels primarily KCNQ2 and KCNQ3. These channels are potassium channels that are critical for brain function. We investigated the effects of loss of function and gain of function on KCNQ channel variants and what the response leads to be. In addition, the research was further applied to how we can use KCNQ2 channels to target patients with encephalopathy.
Understanding the Role of SR-B1 in Lipid Metabolism and Inflammation
Investigators: Christopher Blesso, Christina Jiang
SR-B1 is an HDL receptor that has a role in cholesterol exchange and the initiation of intracellular signaling cascades involved in lipid metabolism. SR-B1 is highly expressed in the liver, but its function has not been fully determined in adipocytes, which is the aim of this project. Cholesterol imbalance can result in disease states such as atherosclerosis, so the study of this HDL receptor can be implicated in disease prevention.
The aim of the research was to perform successful knockdown in 3T3-L1 adipocytes by using siRNA (scramble, cyclophilin, SR-B1); determine gene expression of SR-B1 and cyclophilin to confirm knockdown; determine inflammatory response of adipose by introducing LPS or macrophage-conditioned media to cells. After treating the cells with the appropriate reagents, RNA was isolated, cDNA was synthesized, and PCR was conducted to confirm knockdown. There was a 40% knockdown in cyclophilin when treated with cyclophilin siRNA and insignificant knockdown with SR-B1 knockdown. There is about a 60-70% knockdown of SR-B1 in adipocytes treated with SR-B1 siRNA, indicating that the knockdown was successful. In the presence of macrophages, there is about a 40% knockdown of SR-B1. In the presence of LPS, there is also about a 40% knockdown of SR-B1. These successful gene knockdowns provide evidence to continue on with the experiment.
Drug Treatment for Depression: Deprenyl’s Effect on Motivation, Effort and Behavior
Investigator: Shanicka Reynolds
Depression is more than a feeling of sadness. It can progress into a disabling disease that degrades mental, physical, and social health. One of the most debilitating symptoms of depression is a decrease in motivational behavior. Motivational symptoms such as fatigue and anergia are difficult to treat and many of the existing antidepressants do not effectively treat motivational symptoms. This project will focus on the MAO-B inhibitor drug, deprenyl. The goal is to provide a more detailed characterization of the motivational effects of deprenyl through experimentation. Successful increase of motivational behavior using deprenyl will not only benefit patients suffering from depression, but will help patients of various disorders such as Parkinson’s where depression can be a side effect of their disease.
Lab-on-a-chip Device for an Early Diagnosis of Cardiac Diseases
Investigators: Elena Carrington, Karim Abdel Jalil, Dr. Chandra Kumar Dixit in the Chemistry as well as the Molecular and Cell Biology Department
Through various experiments, we are showing that microfluidic arrays can be used for detection of cardiovascular disease. We are examining troponin, C-Reactive Protein (CRP), and myoglobin as biomarkers for detection of cardiovascular disease. These biomarkers are used in a 3D printed microfluidic device, which is designed with an open source designing software, Autodesk 123. The fabricated chip has two distinct regions, viz fluidics and detection zone. Reagent delivery system is constituted of five micro-channels for transporting sample and reagents to the detection chamber. Monoclonal capture antibodies are spotted separately within the detection chamber. The sample and reagents follow to the waste chamber. The detection zone is spotted with monoclonal antibodies specific to the three biomarkers. The objective of our experimental design is to develop a microfluidic-based tool for multiplexed and highly sensitive detection of cardiovascular diseases. The experiments are ongoing; therefore, we do not have conclusive results at this time.