Aaron Shepherd

Mentor: Dr. Lucia Notterpek
College of Medicine
 
"My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) when I was 2 years old and since then I've wanted to become a part of the medical field. One of my passions is MS awareness and I was always interested in becoming a part of the research aspect on the fight against this disease. Thanks to the University Scholars Program, I've been able to really achieve one of my dreams by helping to understand demyelinating diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (which we are currently investigating). "

Major

Biology

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Stem Cell Research
  • Demyelinating Diseases
  • IPSC's

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program 2014-15

Organizations

  • UF MEDLIFE
  • ISA
  • Gator EMS

Volunteer

  • Camp Boggy Creek
  • Project Downtown Gainesville
  • Health Central Hospital

Hobbies and Interests

  • Playing Basketball
  • Listening to Music
  • Computer Programming
  • Playing Guitar/Bass Guitar

Research Description

Characterization of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived Schwann Cells

Better understanding of human disorders requires the study of disease-relevant cells from affected patients. Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease refers to a group of hereditary peripheral neuropathies, of which type 1A (CMT1A) is known to be the most common. It is largely linked to the duplication in a gene encoding for a myelin protein, Peripheral Myelin Protein 22 (PMP22). PMP22 is a hydrophobic, tetra span membrane glycoprotein expressed mainly in Schwann cells, but also expressed in the epithelia and fibroblasts. Since primary human Schwann cells are difficult to obtain, this project will take advantage of the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSCs) technology where disease-relevant cells are derived from human skin fibroblast cells. These cells are collected from patients who are affected by the CMT1A disease as well as their healthy relatives in order to create a control. The objective of creating Schwann cells is to model and study the human disease with patient-derived cells.