Kinetic Constant Determination of Multidrug Efflux Pump

Multidrug efflux pump, which sometimes pumps out almost all of the commonly used antibiotics, plays a major role in bacterial resistance. The design of better antibiotics which will overcome this mechanism will require knowledge of the kinetic behavior of this pumping process. Recently, Cheng participated in a study that determined the kinetic constants for one class of antibiotics, cephalosporins. In this project Cheng will be using other antibiotics as the potential competitor of the cephalosporin flux to develop a more complete understanding of kinetic behavior of the pump. The knowledge of kinetic constants for various antibiotics will allow design of more suitable compounds that will evade the multidrug efflux process and will be effective in the treatment of human infections in the 21st century.

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Targeted Genome Modification Using Zinc Finger Nucleases

Genetic work with model organisms, such as fruit flies, mice, and zebrafish, has provided invaluable insights into the mechanisms behind human disease and development. One tool for creating these models is direct modification of the genome. Michael is optimizing the use of reagents, called zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), in order to create specific and targeted modifications in the DNA sequence of a very genetically tractable system, the zebrafish. Using ZFNs, genes can possibly be directly targeted to express desired proteins, incorporate molecular tags, or can even be repaired by a corrected template. He will develop assays to quantify ZFN-mediated targeting and optimize conditions to improve targeting efficiency, with the goal of making this technology broadly accessible to and widely used within the scientific community.

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The Role of Cellular MicroRNAs in CMV Infection: Identification of MicroRNA Targets and Downstream Effects Using SILAC and Mass Spectrometry

Since their discovery in 1993, microRNAs (miRNAs) have become an area of active research and are currently believed to rival transcriptional regulation as a means of controlling messenger RNA levels and ultimately protein production within a cell. In response to viral infection, the cellular miRNA profile shifts to regulate specific protein levels and combat infection. Cellular miRNA mir-7 has been shown to be significantly upregulated following infection with Cytomegalovirus, a beta-herpes virus present in up to 80% of the population. However the messenger RNA target and effects on protein levels have yet to be elucidated. In her research, Marissa will use mass spectrometry to monitor protein level changes after overexpression of miR-7 to identify potential messenger RNA targets and downstream molecular pathway effects and their role in Cytomegalovirus infection.

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Nanowire Solar Cells

The resurgent interest in renewable energy within recent years has confirmed that solar energy conversion will be key to the global energy economy. However, the vast majority of modern commercial photovoltaic technology is based on expensive single crystalline silicon and does not provide a practical solution for a sustainable energy infrastructure. Modern research in thin film and nanostructure photovoltaics has been motivated by the requirement of low cost and robust fabrication techniques. Ali will be employing novel fabrication procedures to grow high density arrays of vertical nanowires in order produce cheap and durable solar cells. The objective is to exploit recent advances in applied physics, chemistry, and material science to produce inexpensive yet efficient photovoltaics with potential to stimulate further progress towards the goal of a clean, renewable energy source.

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Dispersal Behavior of the Bed Bug Cimex lectularus to Control-Related Exposures

Within the past decade, bed bugs have made a startling reemergence in major cities throughout the developed world. Some attribute this epidemic to increasing international travel and trade, evolved pesticide resistance among bed bugs, and the banning of highly lethal chemicals, such as DDT. Nevertheless, these current conditions necessitate the creation of new, environmentally friendlier, pest-control strategies. The dispersal ecology of bed bugs is poorly understood. Studying their response to various forms of stimulation would reveal information about their behavior that could be utilized in controlling infestations. James will monitor the behavior response of bed bugs to three forms of environmental stimulation: aggregation pheromone, human perspiration, and heat. To further assess real-world application, James will work with laboratory and wild bed bug strains in both a lab and household environment.

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Does Social Status Impact Mental Health?

The goal of this project is to expand our understanding of the role social status plays in the etiology of depression. In humans, there is a strong inverse relationship between social status and depression. Those at the top of their social hierarchy experience less depression compared to those at the bottom. Our laboratory has developed a basic animal model which will allow us to explore the causal relationships between social status and depression. Vanessa will be tracking rats before, during and after hierarchy formation to determine which comes first, the social rank or the depression profiles. Her work will culminate in a psychology senior honors thesis and significantly advance our understanding of the complex nature of social status and mental health.

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