Hi, my name is Davesh Purohit and I am a Neuroscience major researching on Parkinson’s disease with my mentor-John Schreifels. I first heard about this project from John Schreifels, I was intrigued by his motivation to help his sister—who has Parkinson disease—by creating an instrument that can quickly detect the presence of the disease. Since there was no clinical method to detect the disease, I clearly saw the need for a process to detect the disease as a pre-med student since millions of Americans are affected by it every year. John Schreifels was diving into a theory that involved the usage of a Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometer (DART-MS) to detect Parkinson’s from a patient’s stench or body fluids. So, when I decided to work with him on this research project, we purchased a DART-MS instrument and spearheaded the theory on our own. My goal for this research project was to become acclimated with the DART-MS by calibrating the instrument and conducting experiments to prove the instrument’s functionality. The DART-MS was designed to detect the molecular weight of any substance, so the goal for this instrument was to successfully detect the molecules that are responsible for creating a stench in a sample of Listerine mouthwash.
Throughout the semester, I communicated with my professor on a daily basis to order the right materials and assemble the DART-MS. Once the instrument was ordered and assembled, my weekly tasks would include calibrating the instrument, learning about the architecture, data processing, and software of the instrument. When the instrument was calibrated, I was successfully able to detect the molecules that were responsible for emitting a scent from the mouthwash. The next phase of our research is to apply this process to detect the stenches of apples, oranges, and stinkbugs for further verification of the instrument’s capabilities before we move onto trying to detect Parkinson’s disease in human trials. One thing I took away from this research project is the amount of help you can get from different companies, GMU faculty, and mentors if you simply ask for help. I would have never gotten this far in this research project if it weren’t for the assistance of my superiors. As I progress onwards with this research project, more questions will be asked than answers would be given; but I’m excited to see how this project will impact the scientific community in the future