Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Bao Nguyen

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2019

Research Project: Short Chain Fatty Acids delay onset of disease and extend lifespan in Ndufs4-/- mice

Project Description: Leigh Syndrome is a fatal mitochondrial disease. We’re interested in whether short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), a metabolic byproduct, recapitulate the therapeutic effects of acarbose on this disease. Using the Ndufs4−/− mouse, we investigate the mechanistic basis of acarbose in suppressing the disease and extend longevity. Our conclusion is that SCFAs moderately recapitulate the efficacy of acarbose in Ndufs4−/− mice in extending lifespan and delay symptom onset.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, I was able to continuously do research with Dr. Bitto. When COVID-19 hits in March and I was no longer able to come to campus, our plan was modified but I was still able to keep in touch with the project and assisted Dr. Bitto with some data analysis. The work culminated in my virtual oral presentation at the UW Undergraduate Symposium, and another oral presentation at a national conference,  the American Aging Association’s Annual Meeting in June 2020. Throughout this time, I received tremendous support from my mentors. I have gained valuable skills researching in the lab, and have gained much confidence to pursue my future academic goals in medicine. Now graduated from UW Seattle, I continue to conduct research within my current post-baccalaureate program.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

I would encourage everyone to talk with your research mentor and seek their advice and support. I would also give myself ample time to work on my research proposal, as well as articulate my future goals, and the significance of this project to me and my goals. I also tried to find opportunities to learn and network in and outside of UW. For example, during my senior year, I submitted my abstract and presented at small, local conferences, including one at Fred Hutch. Finally, stay resilient and always believe in yourself!