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. My goal for this research project is to isolate the compounds that emit as the molecular marker for parkinson’s. 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 this semester, we primarily worked on maintenance of the DART-MS and performing ionization experiments. My weekly tasks would include ordering supplies, analyzing compounds that are linked to Parkinson’s, and doing the proper data analysis to distinguish unnecessary data from necessary data. This took a lot of time and effort since this field of research is primarily new to the scientific community. So, the reliance on new published research journals on the topic of Parkinson’s disease was crucial to me and my mentor before we could move onto our next step. The next phase of our research will include human trials and analyzing their body fluids, sweat, and breath samples to hopefully identify the same molecular markers/ chemicals that causes parkinson’s. One thing I took away from this research project is the amount of help you can get from different companies, George Mason 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.