Maria Korah

Maria Korah
Mentor: Dr. Marcelo Febo
College of Medicine
 
"I initially became involved with research in order to explore my interest in science and medicine. Scientific research has the potential to change and advance the medical field for the better, and I find that incredibly fascinating. Over the years, research has become a deep passion for me, and I am excited to continue conducting research as a University Scholar."

Major

Microbiology and Cell Science

Minor

Bioinformatics, Spanish

Research Interests

  • Diabetes and related diseases
  • Renal diseases
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program, 2014
  • Phi Beta Kappa Inductee, 2013
  • Anderson Scholar with High Distinction, 2013
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science for Life Intramural Research Award, 2013

Organizations

  • Friends for Life of America
  • Humanitarian Interaction on Campus
  • Student Honors Organization

Volunteer

  • Shands Hospital Pediatric Cancer Unit
  • Noah's Endeavor
  • Ronald McDonald House

Hobbies and Interests

  • Reading
  • Singing
  • Spending time with family
  • Cooking

Research Description

Determining Electro-Acupuncture's Mechanism of Action on Immune and Nervous Systems
The use of stem cells for various therapies, including vascular and organ dysfunction repair, has been a rapidly evolving area of mounting interest. This study investigates the potential role of acupuncture in stem cell therapy. Acupuncture has been used as a therapy for centuries, and although various studies validate the efficacy of acupuncture, the exact mechanism of action of this technique is unknown. We will test the hypothesis that electro-acupuncture (EA) at the “Wei Qi" or immune points of the body activates sympathetic centers in the central nervous system (CNS) through sensory fibers (afferent arm), which then send efferent signals via the peripheral adrenergic nerves to blood vessels and to bone marrow to release stem/progenitors into the systemic circulation (efferent arm). The effects of EA on CNS will be investigated by comparing a group of 10 rats that receive EA prior to fMRI scans to a sham group (n = 10) in which EA needles are inserted into sham points. Under Isoflurane (2-4%) anesthesia, EA needles will be inserted into the immune points and a small current (1-10mA) will be delivered for 45 minutes, fMRI experiments will then be carried out using a 11.1-Tesla Magnex Scientific MR scanner. Comparisons of BOLD signal maps before, during, and after EA will be made in order to determine which areas of the brain are activated by stimulation of the peripheral immune points. The results of this study would provide a conceptual and technical breakthrough in management of acute injuries by providing a safe and easy way to release MSC and vascular progenitors into the circulation to promote healing.