MiBrain Predoctoral Fellowship
Jacob Hull is a 4th year candidate-level Neuroscience Graduate Student under the co-mentorship of Lori Isom (Professor of Pharmacology) and Dr. Victoria Booth (Associate Professor of Mathematics). Jacob has a B.S. from Kansas State University, and is a Rackham Merit Scholar (first generation college, disadvantaged background). His research project focuses on understanding an inherited epileptic encephalopathy called Dravet Syndrome. The hypothesis being tested is that a loss-of-function mutation in the gene SCN1B causes visual cortical epileptic activity via increases in glutaminergic neuron excitability resulting from changes in sodium currents. Notably, the research will examine the excitability and neural network changes by combining electrophyiological, pharmacological and imaging assessment within the layers of the visual cortex. Detailed changes in excitability will then be used to develop a computational mathematical model, which provides a strong cross-disciplinary interaction for this research.
Lauren Moore is a 3rd year candidate-level Neuroscience Graduate Student under the co-mentorship of Henry Paulson (Professor of Neurology) and Gary Smith (Professor of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, OB-Gyn, and Urology). Lauren holds a B.S. in Biomedical Physics from Northwestern University. Her research project focuses on spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3) that results from aberrant CAG repeats in the ATXN3 gene, whichcauses selective degeneration of neurons in only certain brain regions. The research proposed is directed at identifying the mechanism of CAG repeat toxicity and involves the use of human embryonic stem cells from the MStem Cell Laboratories under the guidance of the co-mentor, who is Director of the MStem Cell Laboratory. The research involves a variety of molecular biological approaches to modify stem cells to mimic the SCA3 mutation, followed by differentiation into dopamine and cortical neurons where properties of transcriptional regulation can be thoroughly investigated.