"The University Scholar’s Prgoram allows me to have a more structured research experience with a required submission to the Journal of Undergraduate Research and poster presentations in UF Undergraduate Research Symposium. This distinction also serves as a mini grant to help further my research aspirations."
Biochemistry, Molecular Biology
RAAV-mediated shRNA knock-down of alpha-synuclein in the rat substantia nigra results in aberrant dopamine handling.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science for Life Undergraduate Intramural Award (2010)
- Peter J. Sones Scholarship (2011)
- Anderson Scholar with High Distinction (2010)
- President's Honor Roll
- Dean's List
- UF Track Intramural - Strong Gator Award
- Golden Key Honor Society
- UF Wrestling Club
- UF Intramural Sports
Rahma Free Clinic, Shands Hospital Project, and Downtown Camp Boggy Creek.
Hobbies and Interests
- Athletics, track and field, weight training, football, strongman, and hanging out with friends.
rAAV-Mediated shRNA Knock-Down of Alpha-synuclein in the Rat Substantia Nigra Results in Aberrant Dopamine Handling
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder caused by a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) and a subsequent loss of dopaminergic innervation in the terminal fields of the caudate/putamen. α-syn is an abundant protein in the CNS which has been associated with the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative disorders. Although the function of α-syn is largely unknown, the protein has been shown to be associated with synaptic vesicles and is thought to play a role in vesicle maintenance and neurotransmitter release. Experimental data has shown that over-expression of wt or mutant α-syn can induce PD-like neurodegeneration in humans and animals. This has led to the suggestion that down-regulation of α-syn might provide a therapeutic modality for synucleinopathies. However, recent data show that virally delivered shRNAs targeting α-syn in the rodent substantia nigra results in significant dopaminergic cell-loss and resultant motor behaviors corresponding to levels of knock-down. In this project we sought to further characterize the effects of α-syn knockdown in the rodent basal ganglia. Recombinant adeno-associated virus type 2/5 expressing either α-syn shRNA and GFP as a transduction marker, or GFP alone, was stereotaxically injected in the substantia nigra (SN) or globus pallidus (GP) of adult rats. A subset of animals was sacrificed at 7 and 14 days following the injections. Histological analysis of these animals indicates the presence of apoptosis in the SNc of α-syn shRNA treated animals as early as 7 days following injection. Our data, in concordance with previously published reports, agree with the fact that some level of α-syn is required for the survival of dopaminergic neurons, and is consistent with the hypothesis that loss of α-syn results in aberrant dopamine handling.