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Annual Mikiten Research Forum Allows Students to Share Their Science

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Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Of Interest | June 15, 2015

The annual Mikiten Research Forum is always an exciting time for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

The forum organized by the Graduate Student Association promotes excellence in research through mentorship, collaboration, and student interaction. In addition to giving poster presentations, graduate students also listened to oral presentations from Taylor Fitch, Rohit Jadhav, Nathan Mitchell, Krystle Blanchette, Aparna Gorthi, and David Aguilar.

Taylor Fitch, a graduate student in the medical school program, spoke about her research on the prevalence and risk factors of post-traumatic stress disorder among workers injured in Rana building collapse in Bangladesh.

“I’ve always been interested in global health. I selected Bangladesh because I wanted to look at safety concerns like the amount of fire extinguishers and I stumbled upon the Rana building tragedy,” Fitch said.

Her research has found that after the building collapse, 60 percent of the workers had PTSD and 83 percent couldn’t find work.

“Mental health is a growing issue in developing countries and even if it’s the 9th largest country in terms of population, they only have one mental health facility,” Fitch explained.

During her time in Bangladesh, she also gave educational talks and shared her research with the Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed.

“PTSD is not something that counselors are trained in and there is a common perception that men cannot get PTSD,” Fitch said. “This was really interesting to me and I see that the building collapse was not only a physical health issue but a mental health issue.”

Nathan Mitchell, a graduate student in the Department of Physiology, spoke about his research on the mechanisms contributing to the lack of antidepressant efficacy in juveniles and adolescents.

“Currently the pathophysiology of depression is unknown, however we’ve had antidepressants since the 50’s,” Mitchell said. “Over the past 60 years we have developed 2nd generation antidepressants, like Prozac, which have fewer side effects but are no more effective than the 1st generation drugs. Further, these drugs are often ineffective in kids.”

Mitchell’s lab is working to discover why antidepressants are not working in kids in a mouse model.

“By studying the development of juvenile and adolescent mice, we believe we have found brain proteins that are preventing currently used antidepressants from producing their therapeutic effects. Proteins, such as the plasma membrane monoamine transporter, can be blocked with test compounds in lab. Blocking these proteins appears to have antidepressant-like effects in young mice and may be targets for futures drug development.” Mitchell said.

Mitchell believes that his research could be used in the future to create more effective antidepressants for children.

Hongjoo An, a graduate student in the Biology of Aging track in Dr. Alex Bishop’s lab explained that he enjoyed participating in the Mikiten Research Forum because it allowed him to catch up with his fellow graduate students.

“It’s great to see what other people are doing and to learn about their research,” said An. “It also lets us get positive criticism to improve our research.”

Winners for the Mikiten Research Forum are:

Oral Presentation Winner - Nathan Mitchell

Graduate Poster 1st Place Winner - Blaine Jacobs

Graduate Poster 2nd Place Winner- Rachel Guess

Research Associate 1st Place Poster Session Winner- Sergey Poplaev

Postdoctoral Poster 1st Place Winner – Marieke Oldenbroek

Postdoctoral Poster 2nd Place Winner – Zheng Lou

For more photos from the event, check out our Facebook



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