Uptake of 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate and Folic Acid by Mature Red Blood Cells

Folate deficiency still remains as the primary culprit for childhood mortality, and a major cause of atherosclerosis and cancer. Yet, we lack a precise method for determination of the long-term folate status of patients. The objective of Nikas project is to develop a more accurate method of quantifying long-term folate status through elucidation of Red Cell Folate kinetics. It is assumed that Red Cell folate (RCF) remains constant in the circulation; nevertheless, erythrocytes are capable of specific uptake of folate, suggesting that RCF is dynamic. Nika will perform experiments in order to develop a kinetic model that incorporates this dynamic nature of RCF. The model will be validated by collaborative clinical studies in Mexico. Hopefully, through this exciting collaboration, the results of this research may extend beyond national boundaries and give rise to more accurate methods for quantifying folate status.

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Sciences

Influences of Early Acoustic Experience on Sensory Perception

As part of Professor Shaowen Baos lab, Yoon will expand our understanding of the influence of sensory input on information processing during an epoch of early development known as the critical period. At the behavioral level, he will investigate how early experience of single-frequency tone pips influences frequency discrimination ability in rats. At the physiological level, he will examine the auditory cortex (A1) of tone-exposed rats to extract response properties of the cortical neurons, such as the characteristic frequency, spontaneous firing rate, maximum firing rate, and tuning bandwidth. At the systems level, he will simulate the auditory cortex with a population of model neurons using computational methods with previously extracted properties. By creating a model of the perceptual discrimination process, Yoon will investigate how repeated exposures to a sound influence perception discrimination of acoustically similar sounds.

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Sciences

Positional Cloning of the Grinch Mutation in Xenopus Tropicalis

Under the guidance of Dr. Richard Harland and two postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Timothy Grammer and Dr. Mustafa Khokha, Dang will study the novel grinch mutation that affects the lymphatic system of the frog Xenopus tropicalis. Like humans, frogs have a lymphatic system which drains fluids from tissues back to the bloodstream. The lymphatic system influences the course of many human diseases, from lymphedema to tumor metastasis; and currently little is known about the molecular basis of lymphatic development. Dang’s efforts will ultimately result in the characterization and identification of the mutated gene, which will contribute to our understanding of the amphibian lymphatic system and possibly that of humans.

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Sciences