Wednesday, April 13, 2016

URSP Student Taylor Iobst Investigates the Effects of Excess Zinc and Copper Deficiency on Social Behavior in a Mouse Model of Late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease

During my sophomore year, when major courses begin to take over the course load, I began to develop a passion for neuroscience. When I heard that my professor at the time and current mentor was beginning a research project concerning the effects of excess zinc and copper deficiency on a late-onset mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, I quickly inquired more and soon was recruited to join her team. Initially, I had minimal involvement in the research process, with my major responsibility being handling the mice to decrease stress during testing. Over the summer, I began to assist in behavioral testing and take more initiative in the project. After a year of being around the research, I was honored to be offered a Students as Scholars research position allowing me to hone in on a specific piece of the project: The effects of excess zinc and copper deficiency on social behavior in mouse model of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

This past week, I have run the social behavior and odor tests for my second cohort of mice. This week I will be analyzing the videos recorded during testing and inputting data into the SPSS database. Testing for the third cohort will begin April 9th.

Although no conclusions can be made, something interesting noticed during testing is that the wild-type male mice, that is, not transgenic (Alzheimer’s disease), have shown more aggression towards each other than the other experimental groups. They have been separated from one another to avoid injury to the mice.

Gaining experience in research and discovering a passion is extremely crucial to attaining my future goals. With plans of entering the medical field, the research I am doing in the neuroscience department has contributed to my recent employment as a clinical research assistant at a hospital near my hometown. Having the opportunity to apply what I learn in my neuroscience classes to something practical is something else that I find beneficial as well. There is a lot of work yet to go, but I am proud of where the project stands so far.