Ryan Mockabee

Mentor: Dr. Brooke Miller
College of Medicine - Psychiatry
 
"My career goal is to become involved in healthcare so it is key to get involved in research. Research plays an important role in the future of medicine, and getting experience in seeing how this process unfolds gives me unique insight into the way that the field that I hope to become a part of evolves. This understanding will help me to be more effective in my future roles, and I have already learned a great deal about how the research process progresses and the pitfalls that sometimes arise. The experiences and information that becoming involved in research that I have absorbed will serve to make me a more rounded healthcare professional."

Major

Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Epigenetics
  • Public Health
  • Drug Effects

Academic Awards

  • Andrew Goodman Foundation Voter Ambassador - 2015
  • University Scholars Program - 2015

Organizations

  • Delta Tau Delta
  • Dance Marathon
  • Andrew Goodman Foundation

Volunteer

  • Art in Medicine
  • Shands Hospital

Hobbies and Interests

  • Graphic Design
  • Gator football
  • Activism
  • Reading

Research Description

Neuromorphological Effects of microRNA-132
In psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, studies of post-mortem brains have shown a number of structural and morphological changes that are consistent with what we are beginning to understand about the molecular changes associated with the disease. For example, in brain regions that are particularly disordered in schizophrenia, such as the prefrontal cortex, the neurons appear to have an under-developed communication system: the network between neurons (made up of “dendrites”) is less complex than normal, and the number of new protrusions (“spines”) that could become dendrites—given the right amount of brain activity—is also below normal. The microRNA-132 has been identified in genome-wide association studies as a possible important factor in the development of schizophrenia. I am culturing primary neurons from mice with varying levels of expression of miR-132, staining them, and imaging them on a high resolution confocal microscope. I will then identify the dendritic spines and analyze various aspects of them including density. Because of the correlation between spine development and schizophrenia, this could further show a link between miR-132 and psychiatric disorders.