The student can choose from one of two projects available:
(1) Investigating a potential therapeutic target for liver/heart disease. We are investigating a gene implicated in liver and heart damage during obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases. We are currently determining if inhibiting this target during the development of metabolic diseases can prevent liver, heart, and kidney pathology.
(2) Screen for novel drug treatment for pediatric cardiac disease. We are investigating drug targets to treat pediatric cardiac diseases caused by abnormal mitochondrial function. Our approach centers on inhibiting protein-protein interactions within the mitochondria, and we are testing a variety of compounds in newly-developed assays.
The student will work under the supervision of senior lab member.
Project (1): The student will perform imaging and biochemical analyses of mitochondria in healthy and diseased cells (liver cells or heart cells). The student will learn to perform and analyze fluorescence microscopy as well as techniques in biochemistry.
Project (2): The student will help in the development of imaging and flow cytometry-based assays of mitochondrial protein-protein interactions, and then help perform a screen of novel drug compounds. The student will learn techniques in drug screening, imaging assays, and flow cytometry.
If the student is pre-med, there is a potential opportunity to shadow on the cardiovascular clinical service during the summer.
Student Learning Outcomes and Benefits
The work contributed by the student will be part of publications. There is also potential for honors thesis, if the student desires. As part of the this project, the student will develop experience in techniques that are commonly used in the biotech industry, bioscience/biomedical graduate school, and form the basis of medical therapies. The student will develop critical thinking skills and some further background in cardiology and biomedical science. There will be opportunities to present your work at the undergraduate research symposia and lab meetings. The opportunity is most beneficial for students intending to apply to medical school or bioscience/bioengineering graduate school programs.
The student will be paired with the senior lab member overseeing the relevant project for training and supervision, and will then perform an independent subproject as described above. My office is within the laboratory, and I speak with students daily to go over progress, training, and overall experience. Students are expected to present at a lab meeting at least once during the summer. I also separately have monthly meetings to discuss career goals and planning for a career in medicine/biomedical science. Since I am also a practicing physician at the U of U hospital, I try to provide an overall perspective about different types of careers in biomedicine.