Spring 2013 URSP Participant Mariam Hashemi:
I have been working with the Beatty and Guy Liver Research Department for a little over a year now. Majority of the research being done in this lab revolves around Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), Hepatitis B, and obesity. I began by shadowing a PhD student and gradually worked my way up the ladder and landed myself a project of my own; granted the project I am currently working on is a subsection of my mentor’s project, I am still running everything on my own! I began by talking to Dr. Aybike Birerdinc and Dr. Ancha Baranova, they have helped me out from day one by providing me with advice and project ideas throughout the year.
Obesity is becoming a major issue in the United States and the project I am currently working on is focused on finding specific gene expressions from the KCTD family of proteins and its relation to obesity. My mentor had conducted a project that showed a specific protein from the KCTD family is present in patients that are morbidly obese and have been diagnosed with NAFLD. This project will not only help me, but it will also help physicians, and other researchers in their long-term goals of fighting obesity.
On a weekly basis, I am generally reading literature or background information about KCTD and NAFLD. However, if there are specific experiments going on in the lab, I go in and watch to get a better understanding of how my project will be completed. Once I’ve created a list of genes I want to observe, I create primers and wait for them to come in. Once they arrive I will be able to validate the primers and run a qPCR test using samples and find some sort of correlation between the samples used and the gene expression. This week I discovered I can create a brand new primer from scratch, if I needed to do so.
I am currently a pre-med student at George Mason University and I’m striving to become a Physician. This project can be taken into so many different levels of science and help a lot of individuals who are suffering from NAFLD, which does not have a cure. As I move on in my educational career, I am hoping this project will open more doors for the obesity epidemic we are currently facing.