2012 Summer Undergraduate Research Forum

  • Spotlight

Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Environmental Resources

THE IMPACT OF TRANSPOSABLE ELEMENTS ON THE GENOME EVOLUTION

Danielle Epps (Back to top)

Transposable elements are sequences that can move from one locus to another while increasing their copy numbers in the genome. Pack-MULEs refer to Mutator-like elements carrying gene or gene fragments. Pack-MULEs are abundant in plant genomes, and may affect the expression of their parental genes. Mutator elements are the founder elements of Pack-MULEs and have been known to acquire fragments of cellular genes and are still actively amplifying in the genome. However, it is not clear whether the copy number variation caused by their amplification has any impact on their parental genes. To test this notion, we collected samples from maize plants containing distinct copy numbers of Mutator elements, and we will measure the RNA level of the parental gene in these plants. Through this experiment, we intend to determine the relationship between copy number of Pack-MULEs and the expression level of their parental genes. This research project deals with DNA and RNA of maize, and looking to discover more about the transposable elements within this crop on the genome evolution.

Biological Sciences

SEROTONIN DECREASES RHOA ACTIVATION IN CACO-2 CELLS

Shanice Akoto (Back to top)

Enterocyte migration is important for intestinal wound healing and maintenance of epithelial barrier integrity. Serotonin (5-Hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) increases enterocyte actin cytoskeleton organization and migration but its mechanism of action is unknown.  RhoA is a low molecular weight GTPase intracellular signaling molecule and a key regulator of actin cytoskeleton dynamics and cell migration in various cell types.  It is unknown whether 5-HT regulates RhoA activity in the enterocyte.  We have examined the effect of 5-HT on RhoA activation in the enterocyte-like Caco-2 cell. Caco-2 cells were incubated with 100 nM 5-HT for various times and whole cell lysates were affinity precipitated with a rhotekin-GST fusion protein linked to glutathione-agarose beads.  The affinity precipitated fraction was analyzed by SDS-PAGE followed by either Coomassie Blue staining or immunoblotting with a rabbit anti-RhoA antibody.  Immunoblots were quantified by densitometry.  To determine specificity of the affinity precipitation, lysates were incubated with GTPϒS or GDP to enrich the activated (RhoA-GTP) and non­activated (RhoA-GDP) forms. Several proteins with molecular weights ranging between 10-40 kDa are affinity precipitated from Caco-2 whole cell lysates.  The anti-RhoA antibody identifies a single band at 23 kDa, consistent with the molecular weight of the RhoA protein.  The affinity precipitation is specific for RhoA-GTP as compared to RhoA-GDP.  Stoichiometric analysis of the total, bound and unbound fractions demonstrates adequate recovery of the bound fraction and lack of saturation of bound RhoA-GTP.  Treatment of Caco-2 cells with 5-HT showed a transient decrease in RhoA-GTP at 5 minutes with a subsequent increase above baseline levels by 10 minutes. RhoA-GTP levels were decreased at one and two hours after exposure to 5-HT. We have established a method to quantitate activated RhoA (RhoA-GTP) in whole cell lysates from Caco-2 cells.  Our preliminary results suggest that 5-HT may mediate actin cytoskeleton changes and enterocyte migration through changes in RhoA activation. This scholar is supported by the REPID Program (Department of Medicine) through a grant from NHLBI.

EFFECTS OF BISPHENOL-A EXPOSURE ON PROLACTIN LEVELS IN FEMALE RATS

Keith Ameyaw (Back to top)

Bisphenol-A (BPA), a compound commonly used in the synthesis of plastics, is present widely in the environment as a pollutant.  BPA is believed to be an endocrine disruptor because it binds to estrogenic receptors interfering with estrogen-dependent functions.  Estrogen has been found to increase prolactin (PRL) levels by decreasing dopamine (DA) in the brain.  It is known that elevated PRL levels contribute to the development of mammary tumors. Because of BPA’s estrogen-like properties, we hypothesize that it will affect hypothalamic DA through mechanisms similar to estrogens, increasing PRL levels. To test this, adult female rats were treated intraperitoneally with saline, 10µg or 100µg of BPA once a day for two weeks.  At the end of treatment, animals were sacrificed, their brains removed, frozen and sectioned.  Trunk blood was collected and serum was stored at ­70°C until assayed for hormones using radioimmunoassay.  The caudate putamen (CP) and the median eminence (ME), regions of the brain where DA terminals are located, will be microdissected and assayed for DA using HPLC­EC. Changes in DA concentrations will be correlated with changes in PRL secretion.  If there is a negative association between DA levels and prolactin levels with increasing doses of BPA, then it would mean that BPA is capable of increasing PRL levels in the same fashion as estrogen, having negative health implications.  Because of our constant exposure to BPA, studying whether BPA is involved with the development of mammary tumors by increasing PRL will help us develop preventive measures or treatment strategies.  Supported by NIH AG027697.

THE ROLE OF INNERVATION OF THE BONE MARROW ON LYMPHOCYTE DISTRIBUTION AND ACTIVATION

Mohamed Askar (Back to top)

Studies from our lab have shown that diabetes induces bone marrow neuropathy (dysfunctional bone-nerve marrow signals). It is also known that diabetes induces a reduction of lymphocytes (a type of immune cells). However, it is not known whether neuropathy can influence lymphocyte distribution. We hypothesize that there will be a change in the lymphocyte populations if we mechanically severe the nerve to the bone marrow of healthy mice. To denervate the bone marrow we surgically cut the sciatic nerve of the mice and compare it with mice that had sham surgery as control. At different time intervals we harvested the spleen, bone marrow, and blood and generated single cell suspensions. We used flow cytometry to detect the effects of denervation on the distribution and activation of lymphocytes (B-cells, T-cells, NK-cells, and NKT-cells). Our results showed a significant reduction in the percentage of lymphocyte populations in the bone marrow for the denervated mice.  In the blood we observed a slight increase of some of the lymphocyte populations. Not significant differences were observed in the spleen between the denervated and control mice. We also witnessed an increase in lymphocyte activation in the denervated mouse. Overall mechanical denervation of the bone marrow in healthy mice resulted in a change in lymphocyte distribution and activation. Most importantly, this study suggests a connection between the neuronal and the immune system. This scholar is supported by the REPID Program (Department of Medicine) through a grant from NHLBI.

ROLES OF ANDROGEN RECEPTORS AND INTERLEUKIN 6 IN THE PATHOGENESIS OF HEPATOCELLULAR CARCINOMA

Leena Babiker (Back to top)

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major health issue worldwide, since it ranks third in annual cancer death and has limited treatment options. Androgen receptors (AR) are highly expressed in human HCC cells; AR is able to promote proliferation of cells and regulate cell apoptosis. HCCs without AR show an increase in cell apoptosis and a decrease in cell proliferation in comparison to HCC cells with AR. Since AR can act as an oncogenic protein, we hypothesize that the level of AR expression in human HCCs correlates with the progression and prognosis of patients with HCC. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine that promotes the proliferation of hepatocytes, we also hypothesize that there is a correlation between IL-6 expression and HCC progression and prognosis. To prove this hypothesis, we are going to use the existing DNA microarray datasets in Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) which shows expression levels of thousands of genes including the AR and IL-6 gene in a set of human HCCs from patients, and we will use statistical methods such as independent T-Tests and Chi-square to show a significant statistical difference in the expression of AR and IL-6 genes in HCCs in comparison  to normal liver cells. Also, we are going to compare patient’s survival with follow days up in expression levels, as well as compare different expression levels with metastasis and patients’ survival. We predict that that the listed comparisons are statistically significant. This scholar is supported by the SURA Program (Michigan L-SAMP) through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

FREE FATTY ACID INDUCERS OF EMT IN HEPG2 CELLS

Andrea Callaway (Back to top)

What I set out to explore in this project is whether free fatty acids are capable of inducing epithelial to mesenchymal transition or metastasis in HepG2 cells.  To determine this, I am treating HepG2 cells with saturated free fatty acid pamitate, unsaturated free fatty acid oleate, and bovine serum albumin (BSA, control).  I am then testing my hypothesis using two methods, one being the in vitro scratch wound healing assay.  This procedure was created to track the movement of cells in vitro.  The methodology of this procedure is quite simple.  A scratch is made through a single layer of cells on a plate.  As the cells begin to grow to “heal” the wound (scratch), pictures are taken periodically to track the rate of cell migration across the scratch.  Western blots are the second method used, which determine the molecular markers of EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) and metastasis.  I expect to obtain results that demonstrate the fact that palmitate and oleate play a role in inducing EMT in HepG2 cells.

REGULATION OF INFLAMMATION BY THIOREDOXIN INTERACTING PROTEIN (TXNIP) UNDER HYPERGLYCEMIC CONDITIONS IN MÜLLER CELLS

Miguel Joaquin (Back to top)

Introduction: Thioredoxin Interacting Protein (TXNIP) was originally considered to be a glucose response element involved in insulin regulation. However, recently TXNIP has been suggested to play a role in inflammation. More specifically, activation of TXNIP has been linked with the activation of the pro-inflammatory enzyme caspase-1. Whether this occurs under hyperglycemic conditions in Müller cells was the focus of this study.  Methods: The retinal Müller cell line (rMC-1) was treated in normal glucose (5mM) and high glucose (25mM) for 24 hours. TXNIP protein expression was measured using Western Blot Analysis. Quantification of bands was done using Infrared imaging and utilization of Odyssey Software. Following a siRNA-mediated knockdown of TXNIP in rMC-1 cells treated with normal and high glucose, caspase-1 activity was measured using the caspase-1 specific fluorescent substrate YVAD-AFC. Empty vector and scrambled siRNA served as control.  Results/Discussion: TXNIP expression was significantly increased in high glucose treated rMC-1 cells compared to control. SiRNA treatment prevented high glucose-induced up regulation of TXNIP. Caspase-1 activity seems to be slightly affected by siRNA treatment as well.  Conclusions: Müller cells play a prominent role in the maintenance of the retina. During diabetic retinopathy these cells become activated leading to cellular injury and sustained tissue damage. Our data suggests that TXNIP expression is critical for Müller cell activation and inflammation. This scholar is supported by the REPID Program (Department of Medicine) through a grant from NHLBI.

ROLE OF SPHINGOSINE-1-PHOSPHATE RECEPTOR 2 IN UPREGULATION OF CYTOKINES BY BILE ACIDS

Hahyung Kim (Back to top)

The condition cholestasis is caused by disrupted excretion of bile acids from the liver. Cholestasis can lead to increased concentrations of bile acids in the blood and liver, causing hepatocellular injury.  If neglected, this condition leads to liver fibrosis. Currently it is known that when hepatocytes are treated with the bile acid, taurocholic acid (TCA), mRNA levels of interleukin-23 (IL-23), IL-1β, and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP­2) are increased. IL-23 and IL-1β regulate Th17 cell differentiation, which produces the inflammatory cytokine, IL­17A.  IL-17A is responsible for inflammation during cholestasis.  MIP-2 is responsible for recruitment of neutrophils during cholestasis.  What remains unknown, however, is the mechanism by which TCA increases IL-23, IL-1β, and MIP-2. Recent studies have demonstrated that the G-protein coupled receptor, Sphingosine-1-Phosphate receptor 2 (S1PR2) is activated by TCA in hepatocytes.  Accordingly, we hypothesized that S1PR2 is involved in the mechanism of upregulation of IL-23, IL-1β, and MIP-2 by TCA. Murine hepatocytes were isolated and treated with TCA and the S1PR2 antagonist, JTE-013.  After treatment, hepatocyte RNA was isolated and real-time PCR was performed to quantify mRNA levels of IL-23, IL-1β, and MIP-2.  Interestingly, JTE-013 prevented upregulation of MIP-2, however levels of IL-23 and IL-1β were unaffected.  These data demonstrate that upregulation of MIP-2 requires S1PR2, whereas upregulation of IL-23 and IL-1β occurs by a different mechanism. This scholar is supported by the REPID Program (Department of Medicine) through a grant from NHLBI.

DIFFERENTIAL INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE BETWEEN SPLENIC AND COLONIC IMMUNE CELLS

Kimberly Obey (Back to top)

Inflammation is a fundamental response of the body that can have both beneficial and deleterious effects on the host.  There are many factors that contribute to the process of the inflammatory response.  Among them, cytokines-protein molecules that are secreted from various cell types-play an important role. Expression of these cytokines is regulated by intracellular cell signaling pathways. In my research, I am currently testing the hypothesis that these signaling pathways in immune cells from different organs is differentially regulated and therefore, I expect that the production of cytokines in response to ligand stimulation will be different between immune cells from different organs. To test this hypothesis, I will examine the differences of cytokine production levels of the splenocytes and the cells from the colon (two major immune organs).  I will stimulate these cells with three different stimulants in vitro. For this, I will use Pam3CSK4, polyI:C, and lipopolysaccharide (all three of which are microbial products). These different stimulants will each induce different receptor signaling pathways. Using these stimulants I will observe the production of the cytokines from the cells in the spleen and the colon using a technique called “Flow Cytometry” to identify tissue-specific and cell-type specific effects of the microbial products. This scholar is supported by the REPID Program (Department of Medicine) through a grant from NHLBI.

STABLE EXPRESSION OF TOMOREGULIN IN CHINESE HAMSTER OVARY EXPRESSION SYSTEM

Mandi Pena (Back to top)

Tomoregulin is a transmembrane protein that inhibits cell proliferation through transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling. Our research focuses on establishing if human Tomoregulin can inhibit tumor progression through its repressive effects on TGFβ family members. Two isoforms, Tomoregulin-1 and Tomregulin-2 (TMEFF­1& 2), are believed to disrupt the interactions between epidermal growth factor Cripto-FRL1-Cryptic (EGF-CFC) proteins. These proteins, also TGFβ members, are essential for the Nodal signaling pathway. EGF-CFC proteins are normally involved in managing cell development.  In addition to the developmental role of TGFβ proteins, they also cause cancer progression through uncontrolled cellular proliferation. Understanding the deregulation of this pathway can lead to a better understanding of cancer biology. The interaction of Tomoregulin’s effect on EGF-CFC proteins will be studied using x-ray crystallography after stable cell lines over expressing TMEFF-1 & 2 are created. We believe our research could lead to the development of using Tomoregulin for drug therapy in individuals with cancer. This scholar is supported by the SURA Program (Michigan L-SAMP) through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

THE EFFECT OF MLK INHIBITOR ON TUMORIGENIC ABILITY AND MAPK SIGNALING IN AN OVARIAN CANCER CELL LINE

Neco Wilson (Back to top)

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in US women and is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers. Because ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, 75% of patients have metastases at the time of diagnosis. Metastases most frequently occur in the abdominal cavity as well as in the gastrointestinal tract, liver, bladder, and spleen.  New therapeutic strategies for treating the ovarian cancer are urgently needed. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of an inhibitor that targets MAPK signaling pathways on the tumorigenic potential of a human ovarian cancer cell line.   In this project, the human ovarian cancer cell lines SKOV3 and SKOV3-luc-RFP are being used.  SKOV3-luc-RFP is a version of SKOV3 which has been engineered to express a firefly luciferase and a red fluorescence protein.  To evaluate the effect of the inhibitor on tumorigenic potential, soft agar colony formation assays are being performed. The impact of the inhibitor on MAPK signaling pathways in the ovarian cancer cell lines will be investigated by Western Blotting with active MAPK-specific antibodies. This scholar is supported by the REPID Program (Department of Medicine) through a grant from NHLBI.

SOLUTIONS THAT AFFECT QPCR IN AN EFFICIENT AND PRODUCTIVE WAY

Alexander Woods (Back to top)

Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) is a technique that allows DNA to be multiplied into larger strands and then quantified; which means that the double helix strands are counted as their numbers increase. This process has numerous applications in biology dealing with DNA. It is very helpful, but can be difficult due to primer dimer formation, dying samples overnight, some samples are hard to amplify because they contain repeated DNA sequences, and due to certain concentration levels of multiple or single reactants. I will investigate and try to find a solution for the best way to amplify PCR that would allow my team to have a greater coverage of specific regions of genomic DNA so that we could pinpoint exactly where nucleosomes are positioned in these regions. Being able to determine the locations of these nucleosomes is imperative to the project because it could possibly tell us how cells of different tissues express certain traits that allow them to become stomach cells, muscle cells, brain cells, etc. The solutions that could improve qPCR are dimethylsulfoxide, ammonium sulfate, glycerol, and PEG. The accuracy of this test is very important because PCR tests can be used in the medical and criminal field where a slight difference of accuracy could change the results of the test and ultimately cause harm. This scholar is supported by the SURA Program (Michigan L-SAMP) through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

CHARACTERIZATION OF THE INTERACTION BETWEEN CBPA, A SURFACE VIRULENT FACTOR OF S. PNEUMONIAE, AND HUMAN FACTOR H, A COMPLEMENT S

Lestella Bell (Back to top)

Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) is a major cause of several bacterial infections such as otitis media, pneumonia, and meningitis. The exact mechanism by which S. pneumoniae evades host’s immune system is not clearly known. Recent studies suggest that S. pneumoniae evade phagocytosis mediated by the host’s immune system by recruiting a negative complement regulator, factor H (FH), to its surface. All virulent strains of S. pneumoniae tested to date contain a gene for the surface protein CbpA. CbpA binds to the FH protein via its N-terminal domain and this interaction helps S. pneumoniae to evade complement-mediated phagocytosis. FH is a large glycoprotein abundant in plasma and is composed of 20 short consensus repeats (SCR). It remains controversial which of the 20 SCRs of FH are responsible for the binding of CbpA. The long term goal of Dr. Yan’s lab is to gain a better understanding of the molecular details of S. pneumoniae-host interaction and to evaluate the possibility of disrupting this interaction as a strategy to prevent infections caused by this bacterium. Our specific goals are to over express and isolate functional FH proteins from E. coli, to establish the region of FH that interacts with CbpA, and to determine if this reaction is consistent across variants of CbpA found in S. pneuominae. In future we aim to characterize the purified proteins and to evaluate their potential to be used in both biochemical and biophysical methods focused on probing the molecular details of FH-CbpA interactions.

SUPPRESSION OF CD40-INDUCED B CELL ACTIVATION BY DELTA-9-TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL IN MOUSE PRIMARY B LYMPHOCYTES

Stephen Carney (Back to top)

Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), a plant-derived cannabinoid that binds to cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 (CB1/CB2), has previously showed to impair CD40-induced primary immunoglobulin M (IgM) production in mouse splenic B cells. The interaction between CD40 and CD40 ligand (CD40L) stimulates B cells to up-regulate the expression of co-stimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86. It was hypothesized that Δ9-THC would suppress B cell activation by impeded the up-regulation of CD80 and CD86 at both protein and mRNA level in a cannabinoid receptor dependent mechanism. Mouse fibroblast stably transfected with human CD40L gene were implemented to stimulate B cell activation in vitro. In the presence and absence of Δ9-THC, surface protein expression will be measured by flow cytometry on day 3 to obtain gated percentages. The effect of Δ9-THC  on the mRNA level will be assessed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). RNA samples were isolated from 4 wild-type and 4 CB1/CB2 knockout mice spleens to be converted into cDNA using the PCR machine.  Using the 2-ΔΔCT method, threshold cycle was presented as the fold change in gene expression normalized to an endogenous reference (18S rRNA) and relative to the untreated control (0.02% DMSO). We analyzed qRT-PCR data with one-way ANOVA for comparison among the treat groups and Dunnett’s post-hoc test to identify statistical significance. We expected inactivation of CD80 and CD86 on B cell surface and inhibition of mRNA coding at increasing Δ9-THC levels in both mice groups.

Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

TESTING THE K VALUE OF DIGITAL NORMALIZATION: HOW MUCH CAN BE ASSEMBLED?

Robert Ray, Jr. (Back to top)

In today’s scientific community there is rarely a problem that can be solved using a single field of study. For example, medicine is attempting to use genes and gene expression to analyze the caner genome and develop an advanced way to treat cancer. Technology has evolved such that we are able to sequence high volumes of data consistently at a low cost using a technique known as shotgun sequencing. However, until recently it was almost impossible to assemble this data due to lack of memory, revenue, and time. Digital normalization is a single pass algorithm that systemizes the data from shotgun sequencing thus decreasing sampling variation, removing error, and discarding otherwise redundant information. This project aims to optimize digital normalization by varying the size of the k-mer; it has been proven that a k-mer size of 20 produces significantly accurate results with the yeast transcriptome data set. This project will vary the k value and compare results after assembling with the trinity program. Since this has never been done before there are no expected results based on literature, however we do predict that that k values close to twenty should produce very similar results. The goal of this project is to produce a “perfect” from a k-value. This scholar is supported by the BEACON Program through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Engineering

REDUCING HEART VALVE REPLACEMENT SURGERY BY DESIGN AND MATERIAL

Audrey Meredith (Back to top)

Heart Valve Surgery can be very beneficial to a patient with disease or valve failure, but in children, they can outgrow the valve and need another surgery, of the device could fail completely due to the person’s age, weight, lifestyle and heart condition. We hope to find the best design, and material to decrease the number of patients needing a second surgery due to mechanical failure.

Natural Science

TIME OF DAY EFFECTS ON REFERENCE MEMORY AND PLASTICITY GENE EXPRESSION USING THE MORRIS WATER MAZE IN A DIURNAL RODENT MODEL

Brittany Bostic (Back to top)

The expression of plasticity genes, BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and TrkB (receptor tyrosine kinase) increases in response to physical activity.  BDNF is a growth factor that is important for learning and memory; TrkB, its high-affinity receptor, is involved in long-term potentiation, which is a primary mechanism for associative learning at the cellular level. We are studying how circadian rhythms and physical activity influence the expression of BDNF and TrkB in the hippocampus of diurnal grass rats. Through the use of the Morris water maze (MWM) we are testing time of day differences in reference memory. Eight sedentary animals and eight wheel running animals, housed in a 12h:12h, light:dark cycle will be examined. Each group will be divided in half; 4 animals will be tested at 10 am and 4 animals will be tested at 10 pm. Each animal will have 24 trials and 1 probe trial over the course of 7 days, 2 weeks after the probe trial, each subject will undergo one trial in the MWM. We designed this experiment to test the effects of time of day on acquisition and retention of a hippocampal-dependent task and to examine how learning relates to the expression of plasticity genes in active and sedentary animals. This is important because there has been limited research on plasticity gene expression in a diurnal animal model. Our aim is to create a basic model to explore the optimal time of day for learning, and how it may differ between diurnal and nocturnal species.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ANALYTICAL ELECTROCHEMICAL ASSAY FOR MEASURING NOREPINEPHRINE AND NORMETANEPHRINE IN URINE

D'Nisha Hamblin (Back to top)

Nitrogen-doped tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C:N) thin-film electrodes are a cheaper alternative for performing electroanalytical measurements than boron-doped diamond thin-film electrodes while possessing many of the same attributes. Concentrations of 1 nM to 100 µM of the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine (NE), and its primary metabolite, normetanephrine (NME), were measured electrochemically as an oxidation current as a function of the concentration to determine the linear dynamic range (LDR) and limit of detection. Flow injection analysis (FIA) with amperometric detection was used at a detection potential of 550mV and575 mV vs. the Ag/AgCl reference electrode for NE and NME respectively. In preliminary work, the LDR was determined as 0.2-100 µM (R=0.986), for NE and 0.1-100 µM (R=0.987), for NME. The sensitivity, slope of the response curve, for NE and NME were 18.24±2.42 nA/µM and 3.21±0.39 nA/µM respectively. These figures of merit were reproduced in triplicate on multiple ta-C:N electrodes and values reported represent their averages. This quantitative data was used to analyze urine samples with unknown amounts of the catecholamines and to determine their exact concentration within. Detecting these compounds in urine shows importance because they are a measure of autonomic nervous system activity, which can be a contributor to hypertension. High NME concentrations in urine can also be linked to tumor presence in the adrenal glands. The combined low production cost of ta-C:N and the simplicity and miniaturization principles of FIA using amperometric detection is expected to provide a more affordable electrochemical measurement tool.

EVALUATING DIFFERENT BRAIN REGIONS THAT CONTROL THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM IN A DIURNAL RODENT MODEL

Aisha Henderson (Back to top)

Circadian rhythms are patterns of behavioral, biochemical, or physiological fluctuations that occur approximately every 24 hours (e.g. sleep/wake cycle). These rhythms respond to the light/dark cycle, which results in the entrainment of nocturnal and diurnal animals daily activity (Dibner et al., 2010; Breedlove et al., 2010). The activity of diurnal animals is highest during the day, while that of nocturnal animals peaks at night. Although this is the standard rhythmic process for diurnal and nocturnal species, there are instances of reversals in the preferred phase of activity; such shifts can cause disruption of the circadian control of physiology and behavior.  (Salgado-Delgado et al., 2010). Our objective is to use a diurnal rodent model to investigate whether internal temporal desynchronization enhances an animal’s risk for acquiring metabolic and behavioral abnormalities (Gritton et al., 2012). Since circadian regulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a role in many behavioral and metabolic functions, we plan to examine the effects of shifting activity from day to night on the expression of clock genes in areas of the brain that control the ANS. As a first step, we determined if those genes are expressed in brain regions associated with the ANS.  We found that only three regions exhibited clock genes; the nucleus of the solitary tract, the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, and the nucleus ambiguous. How this expression is affected by shifts in phrase preference is a future direction of this research plan.

FABRICATION PATHWAYS AND CHARACTERIZATIONS OF PLASMONIC ENHANCED NANOREACTIONS

Thiago Szymanski (Back to top)

We seek to understand the enhancement effect of the nanoparticle plasmonic network, which can be used to assist photo-chemical and photo-physical processes on the surface of nanoparticle networks. The surface plasmonic resonance phenomena on a single particle level is well understood, but the study in a multi-particle regime of interactions between plasmonic fields from different particles can lead to the discovery of new resonance structures in the frequency and spatial domains. Using colloidal chemistry techniques, we prepare and deposit gold nanoparticles of varying diameters on silicon chips. Through the use of ultrafast diffraction and voltammetry measurements on the prepared samples to monitor the transient response, we determine the photo-thermal and photo-electrical response as a function of particle size and inter-particle distance. These efforts help address the ongoing debate on the role of the inter-particle plasmonic resonance, which so far, has only been described in the optical domain, but not in terms of the physical response. The description of the plasmonic network’s physical response is crucial for various applications ranging from photo-induced reactions, catalysis, and nano-electronics.

Social Sciences

CHOICE OR OBEDIENCE: PATIENT PERSPECTIVES ON DIABETES MANAGEMENT

Erynn Edwards (Back to top)

 Managing diabetes is a major public health concern. According to the CDC 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 25.8 million American people are diabetic. Diabetes is a complex chronic disease that can be treated with multiple treatment alternatives, giving patients many options for managing their condition. Many studies focus on the physician perspective of important factors that promote patient adherence. However, in this analysis, we are exploring the factors that diabetic patients consider when making informed choices about their diabetes care regimen. In our qualitative study, we analyzed 54 diabetic patient interviews and corresponding interviewer field notes to make observations and take a deeper look into how these patients discussed their individual health and treatment regimens. Factors that we will consider are patient knowledge of individual health care regimens, resources for self care, and the nature of how the patients discuss their well-being. Preliminary findings suggest that a primary factor affecting patients’ choices is the physicians’ clinical authority.

ADDRESSING HEALTH DISPARITIES: CLINICIAN PERSPECTIVES ON LIFESTYLE AND RACE

Dominique Edwards (Back to top)

It has been well documented that certain diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, disproportionately affect racial/ethnic minorities in this country, and there is much clinical interest in addressing these health disparities. Lifestyle choices have been identified as an important modifiable factor affecting these diseases. However, popular stereotypes about the assumed lifestyle characteristics of different racial/ethnic groups may be applied in clinical practice. The present analysis focuses on the management of type 2 diabetes and hypertension as discussed in interviews with 58 clinicians, from 44 primary care clinics in Michigan. In this presentation, we will examine how clinicians discuss lifestyle as impacting health disparities and will highlight how widely shared perceptions of racial difference are applied to their views of the lifestyle choices of racial/ethnic minorities.  We will consider how clinicians discuss lifestyle modification as a treatment for diabetes and hypertension, exploring ways their concepts of racial difference may affect the clinical care provided racialized patients.

AVACAR/CARMUNICATION

Leanarda Gregordi (Back to top)

This study examines the driver and car relationship on and off the road. More specifically, this study will present the car as two separate entities: one being an extension of the driver, such as personalized emotional attachments or possible body integration and secondly, will view the car as a robot. If the car is seen as a robot, the driver is implied to make social interactions, use automatic responses such as voice activation, and use self drive GPS. To evaluate this study we have created both an online survey and a forty-minute interview to reveal how each participant views their vehicle and how the participant communicates with other drivers on the road. The expectations of this study, is to reveal how the connection with the car influences the way people interact with one another on the road. For example, if the driver has a personal connection with their car opposed to a detached connection, this relationship will have a higher chance in reducing carelessness and aggression on the road. The driver may see this personal relationship as a “friendship” which increases the likely hood of them not wanting to damage their car. Furthermore, this positive interaction between the driver and their car may increase safety and social capitalism amongst drivers on the road.