One of the incredible things about scientific research is how it allows us to think on an entirely new scale. All the research in this group considers the central building blocks of life: genes, proteins, lipids, and more. How do changes on the molecular level ripple outward through the development of organisms? How does the shape of a molecule impact its ability to interact with a larger system? These scientists help us see the relationship between small-scale changes and life-altering results.
In her poster, “Revisiting Recapitulation Theory Through Morphometric Analysis of Planarian Regeneration,” Ananya Pauvluri considers the impact of bioelectricity on how planarian worms develop their shape. When an organism regrows, does it necessarily take the shape it had before, or can that shape be changed? Investigating mechanisms that underlie the proper formation of shape allows for obtaining control of such processes and coaxing these pathways into repairing a wide array of biomedical disorders, including cancer, so this work has broad potential implications.
In the first of two related projects on drug delivery, Raissa Li’s “Determination of Drug Delivery Efficiency and Cytotoxicity for pH Responsive Lipids” investigates whether lipids and lipid-like nanoparticles (LNPs) can serve as a potential drug delivery system. By testing whether a series of LNPs could deliver a fluorescent protein, Li and her collaborators identified several attractive candidates for further study.
Anirban Chakraborty conducts related research in “Understanding the Mechanism of Nanoparticle-Mediated Protein Delivery.” Also working on lipids and LNPs as a potential vehicle for drug delivery, Chakraborty analyzes the structure of different LNPs to determine shared characteristics among attractive candidates in the hopes of assessing design strategies for creating new molecules.
Daanya Salmunullah, in her essay “ITSN1 Modeled in Zebrafish as Cause for Nephrotic Syndrome” examines whether mutating a single gene could cause steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome, an early onset disease that usually leads to kidney failure and death. The Zebrafish possesses a genome similar to that of humans as well as simple kidney function, so it is an ideal model animal for this question. Research is ongoing, but Salmunullah hypothesizes that mutations in a single gene (ITSN1) will cause detrimental effects in kidney development.