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Heather Ferris - Diabetes, neuroscience, Alzheimer's disease, cholesterol

Category: 
Science & Engineering
Department: 
Medicine
Supervising Faculty Member: 
Heather Ferris
Research Focus: 

We are interested in figuring out why people with diabetes are at a higher risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. We believe that many of the pathways and signaling molecules disrupted in diabetes are also altered in Alzheimer's disease, suggesting our research may be applicable to patients with Alzheimer's disease but not diabetes.
We use both cell and mouse models of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and abnormal cholesterol metabolism. Techniques used include microscopy, tissue culture, Western blotting, qPCR, behavioral testing and circadian monitoring.

Position Description: 

A major problem for patients with Alzheimer's disease is a disruption in circadian rhythms. We have found a hormone in the brain that may be driving this disruption and likely disrupting other pathways in the brain. The student will learn to culture cells that they will then stimulate and study the circadian rhythms of the cells in a machine called a lumicycle. In addition, they will screen for other possible targets of this hormone.

Required Skills: 

Student does not have to work with mice but has to be comfortable working in a lab with mice.

Training/Certification: 
If the student wishes to participate in the mouse work they will need to take the animal handler training. They will need to take lab safety training.
What will you learn: 

Perform tissue culture.
Use the literature to trouble shoot an experiment.
Gain a basic understanding of hormone/receptor signaling.

Specialization: 
Diabetes, neuroscience, Alzheimer's disease, cholesterol