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
“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
Graduate Poster 2nd Place Winner- Rachel Guess
Research Associate 1st Place Poster Session
Winner- Sergey Poplaev
Postdoctoral Poster 1st Place Winner – Marieke
Postdoctoral Poster 2nd Place Winner – Zheng
For more photos from the event, check out our Facebook.
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