My name is Amy Apfelbaum. I am a rising junior studying Biochemistry at DePauw University. This summer I am excited to work in Dr. Anthony Grillo’s lab under my mentors Raghav Dutta and Alaa Hassan. The Grillo Lab is focused on understanding the mechanisms of mitochondrial complex 1 dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases. It has been shown that an early feature of neurodegeneration is complex 1 dysfunction; we are trying to determine if this is a cause or an effect of these diseases. To begin with, we will be focused on identifying different types of neuron subtypes in brain tissue samples. This is important because neuron subtypes have distinct roles in cellular communication and different types represent different neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, knowing what types we have in our samples will help us in developing novel neuron cell models of specific diseases. Further, we will be working to isolate primary neurons by first identifying and visualizing the types of brain cells present in brain tissue samples. Finally, we will be working to image protein aggregates which are thought to be a major cause of aging diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s Disease. For our experimental steps, we are working with complex 1 knockout mice, as they give insight into how mitochondrial failure affects cellular physiology, giving us a better understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms that induce these genetic, aging, and environmental diseases. We will use two common techniques of western blot and immunofluorescence to accomplish these tasks and discover what exactly we are working with. Being able to gain experience in an interdisciplinary research lab that combines biochemistry, neuroscience, and physiology has given me the skills and confidence needed to grow as an eager scientist, and I am excited to see all my progress this summer.
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