Monday, April 24, 2017

URSP Student Margaret Sobeski Researches Biomarkers of Inflammation in a Mouse Model with Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

My name is Margaret Sobeski. I am currently a junior majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry at George Mason University. For my OSCAR project, I will be focusing on biomarkers of inflammation in a mouse model with late onset Alzheimer’s disease. My interest in Alzheimer’s disease began my sophomore year of high school when I started volunteering at the local retirement home. Once a week I would sit and talk for hours with Alzheimer’s patients where I became familiar with their behaviors and aware of how much the illness affected their loved ones. I quickly realized the devastation that came with the disease and became determined to get more involved. When I got to George Mason, I decided to major in Neuroscience and involve myself in innovative research related to neurodegenerative diseases. I joined Dr. Flinn’s lab as an undergraduate research assistant where I was encouraged to propose a research question of my own. I hope to use the skills and experiences I gain from this OSCAR project as I start applying to medical schools next year. On a weekly basis, I perform western blots on the brain tissue of mice with late onset AD. Western blotting is a well-established technique that identifies the presence of specific proteins from a more convoluted assortment of proteins in a cell. Although western blotting does not provide an exact number of desired protein present in the tissue, it will aid in my research by indicating whether or not the inflammatory proteins are in fact present in the brain tissue. In addition, it will determine whether late onset mice contain more or less inflammatory protein species. One thing I discovered thus far is that developing a research question is the easy part! Ordering your supplies and remembering to ask yourself what you are doing and why you are doing it is what makes someone a successful scientist.