Thursday, September 21, 2017

OSCAR Student Thalia Dimopoulos Researches The effects of A. bisporus on the Circadian Rhythms and Spatial Memory of hAPP Transgenic Mice

I am Thalia Dimopoulos, a senior studying neuroscience and doing OSCAR’s Summer Intensive Program! My mentor is Dr. Jane Flinn, the director of the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience program here at Mason. Together, we came up with my current project, which is The effects of A. bisporus on the Circadian Rhythms and Spatial Memory of Human Amyloid Precursor Protein (hAPP) Transgenic Mice. Essentially, I am feeding transgenic and wildtype mice a 10% white button mushroom diet three times a week, and mice not on the diet are consuming their regular food yet in the same liquefied form as the diet of 10% mushrooms. I am performing behavioral tests on my mice at 3 and 8 months of age, which include Morris Water Maze (to test their spatial cognition) and circadian rhythm trials (to examine their sleep/wake cycles). White button mushrooms have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and overall fantastic for your brain in regards to memory!

I can see this project being of great use to my future because I want to be on the forefront for helping fight Alzheimer’s. My long-term goal is to see this project be able to ameliorate the situation of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. I have experienced firsthand the horrible effects of Alzheimer’s on the patients and their families. I would like to either receive an MD in geriatrics or a PhD in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (with an Alzheimer’s concentration) so I can somehow make a difference in patients’ lives; whether it’s face-to-face or behind the microscope. So far I have learned how flexibility, patience, and perseverance are essential in research. I will not see results overnight, which I am accepting since I am anticipating this project to have significant results. The wait is worthwhile, and even if I do not see the results that I expect, this experience has been priceless. The valuable lessons I have learned will remain with me for the rest of my life.  I love research and hope to continue this new and exciting path!