Mentor: Dr. Ronald Mandel
College of Medicine
"I applied to the Scholars program in hopes of meeting other undergraduates like myself and to garner an appreciation for the diversity of research interests here at the University of Florida. The program allows me to structure my research efforts, ultimately culminating in a senior thesis. I am also excited about the opportunity to present at the UF Undergraduate Research Symposium and I hope to publish my results in a journal."
IDS Neurobiological Sciences
- Gene therapy for Parkinson's Disease
- Neurodegenerative disorders
- University Scholars Program, 2012-2013
- Anderson Scholar of Distinction, 2011
- President's Honor Roll
- Dean's List
- Alachua County ARC, mental disability center
Hobbies and Interests
- Playing the piano
Development of an rAAV Vector Expressing an MRI Marker Gene for the In Vivo Monitoring of Gene Expression in Animal Models of Neurological Disorders
This project aims to develop an in vivo, noninvasive technique for the monitoring of intracerebral gene transfer and disease progression using magnetic resonance imaging technology. Gene transfer will be done using viruses that over-express iron sequestering genes. The first part of this project will be to design and package rAAV vectors expressing the gene MagA, which has been shown to be involved in the production of magnetosomes in Magnetospirrilum magneticum and which in mammalian cells, produces magnetosome-like structures that affect MR signal similar to MRI contrast agents. The vectors will then be tested both in vitro and in vivo for their ability to enable MR imaging of the nigrostriatal tract. We will track in vivo neurodegeneration in an animal lesion model of Parkinson’s Disease that will be induced using a dopaminergic neurotoxin called 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). Subsequent disease progression and cell death will be observed through periodic MRI imaging of the animal brains and confirmed through histological examination. The ability to monitor ongoing neurodegeneration will help elucidate the onset and time course of cell death in genetic and toxin models of neurodegenerative disorders and hopefully provide insight into treatments for these disorders.