Spinal Cord Injury and Neuroregeneration.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Floida Bright Futures
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science for Life
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Undergraduate Scholarship
- Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School Lifeline Student Research Fellowship
Shands Volunteer (SICU) Teaching Assistant For MCB4034L, Advanced Microbiology Lab Teaching Assistant For MEL4011, and Introduction to the Professions of Medicine Health Educated Asian Leaders (H.E.A.L).
Hobbies and Interests
- Running, tennis, guitar, and watching movies.
Cellular Expression of Pax6 in Spinal Cord Tissue Grafts
Approximately quarter million Americans suffer from spinal cord injury (SCI) and the victims consist of mostly young adults. While an impractical transplant tissue for therapeutic purposes, the grafting of day 14 embryonic spinal cord tissue (E14 SC) in rodent SCI models results in significant neuronal differentiation may prove mechanistically insightful. Because our long-term goal is to use gene delivery ex vivo to augment neuronal differentiation, we are interested in what neurogenic transcription factor may discriminate grafts that produce neurons. Paired Box 6 (Pax6) is a strong candidate for this, as it is involved extensively in central nervous system patterning during development, and in promoting NSC cycle exit into neuronal lineage. The expression of Pax6 after SCI and in various NSC grafting conditions has not been well-studied. We hypothesize that cellular expression of Pax6 will be more frequent in E14 SC tissue grafts (which typically produces more neurons) than in transplants of NSCs cultured from postnatal rodent pups normal cord. We will also study Pax6 expression in normal and injured, untransplanted cords for comparison. Results from this project may provide insight into the potential role of Pax6 as a therapeutic gene therapy for gray matter replacement after SCI. Our SCI model involves producing standardized midline contusions in anesthetized adult, female Sprague-Dawley rats at the C3/4 level using a pneumantic (Infinite-Horizon) impactor. Rats are recovered for 10 days prior to transplantation. In this proposal, 4 groups of rats (n=3-5 per group) will be studied: (1) No injury controls; (2) injury only; (3) injury followed by transplants of NSCs cultured from postnatal day 3 (PND3) rat pup spinal cords; and (4) injury followed by transplants of E14 SC. Normal spinal cords transduced to express Pax6 using a lentiviral vector with a constitutively active EF1 promoter will be used as “positive” control.