Alexa Avecilla

Mentor: Dr. Anthony Gregg
College of Medicine
 
"Growing up with relatives who worked in the medical field, I wanted to understand the other side of patient care beyond the hospital setting by studying the origin and development of medical innovations and treatments. Through research, I have gained a holistic understanding of the different aspects of the health care system from basic science to the current procedures in practice. This opportunity has provided me with many incredible experiences and offered a glimpse into my future aspiration of becoming a physician scientist."

Major

Biomedical Engineering

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Diabetes
  • Nanotechnology

Academic Awards

  • Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Family Member Scholarship 2015
  • Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering Dean’s List 2014-2016
  • Snelling Scholarship Endowment Fund 2016-2017
  • University Scholars Program 2016

Organizations

  • Freshman Leadership Engineering Group (FLEG)
  • Engineers Week 2015

Volunteer

  • Mentor UF

Hobbies and Interests

  • Art
  • Cooking
  • Music
  • Traveling

Research Description

Characterization of C-Peptide During Pregnancy
Diabetic patients are expected to have higher blood glucose levels as a result of insulin resistance. However, pregnant patients with Type 1 diabetes sometimes report significant difficulty with glucose control, mainly due to labile blood glucose levels. They experience symptoms that contradict this expectation with episodes of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Some of these patients even demonstrate increased levels of C-peptide in the maternal serum which were previously undetectable prior to pregnancy. C-peptide and insulin are both produced by pancreatic beta cells at the same rate in equimolar amounts, therefore C-peptide presence indicates presence and production of insulin. The rise in C-peptide levels could be attributed to immune system suppression and pancreatic hyperplasia in response to growth-promoting factors released during pregnancy, but it does not explain the decline in levels and symptoms immediately following delivery. Alternatively, the C-peptide detected in maternal serum may originate from the placenta and may be produced by the trophoblast cells within this tissue. We plan to study glucose regulation in pregnancy and the role of the placenta in glucose regulation and as a possible source of C-peptide.