Week 6: Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa

July 19th, 2013

Brianna Christensen ’16, Dimensions Fellow in Research

My poster now has a title!!! The title is ‘The Inhibition of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Affects Melanocytes and Dopamine Neurons.” Once Barbara and I finished figuring out the title, I realized that I need to make a poster. To make the poster, I need something to show for all the work that I’ve done over the summer. I need results. This sends me into a thinking frenzy questioning whether or not I actually have something to show the people that come to view my poster. I soon realize that I shouldn’t really be asking myself if I have results or not because I do have results. That’s not a problem. I should be asking what results should I use. I need the right combination of results to best tell others what I need and how it went. As my PI puts it, I need to be able to tell a story.

I have a general idea of what I want to include, and now I’m working out the specifics. I’m still gathering some more results just to back up what I’ve already found for the most part. Since I only have about two weeks (one week of just research only), I’ve been working long hours usually 11-13 hours a day. It’s all been worth it because I know that I’m getting as much done as I possibly can. I feel like then I can be proud of what I did this summer no matter how my results turned out.

We started another experiment (I know it’s crazy). We are now testing to see if Pargyline will prevent NFN from affecting the dopamine neurons. NFN inhibits aldehyde dehydrogenase in dopamine synthesis which prevents DOPAL becoming dopamine. DOPAL, which is toxic, builds up causing the problems that we are noticing in the embryos. Pargyline is a monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibitor, so we are hoping that will prevent the buildup of DOPAL. We don’t expect a recovery in the melanocytes, but we are hoping to see an affect on the dopamine neurons.

Today I’m going to see a graduate student defend their thesis. When I started this research position, I found out that I enjoy researching, so I’ve been considering a MD/PhD dual program. I still need to think it over and do more research about it, but I have a few years left of college left to do that! Anyway, I think that this will be beneficial to see what this part of the process is like. This will allow me to get a bit of better idea of what I would have do for the PhD portion of the program.

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