Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2021
Research Project: The Role of Tensional Homeostasis in the Early Stages of Cardiomyocyte Development and Pathology
Project Description: Tensional homeostasis is a process that aids structural development and cellular remodeling in fetal cardiomyocytes and microtubules have been known to play a role in maintaining internal tension in these cells. I am interested in observing what happens to microtubules due to cellular remodeling as a result of abnormal contractility of developing cardiomyocytes. To study these microtubules, I transduced human-induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes with adenoviruses that alter the contractility of these cells from hypercontractility to not contracting at all. These cells were then stained and analyzed for microtubule density. It was seen that the noncontractile cardiomyocytes showed an my hypothesis that microtubules help maintain passive tension in cardiomyocytes and are altered in response to tensional homeostasis. The next steps in my research is to provide external tension to these noncontractile cells in the way of nanopatterns and seeing how the microtubule network is altered with response to this external tension.
What have you learned throughout your research project?
It has been very interesting learning how to apply what I have learned in my bioengineering classes about tension to my wet lab research. This project has taught me how to be accountable for myself, my cells, and my research as well as how to conduct myself in this professional setting. Throughout this project, I have had to interact with many professionals and I have learned so much about the regenerative medicine as well as the importance of collaborating with my peers. I have also learned how to ask thought-provoking questions to better my research. I am hoping to carry these skills into my career in medicine and research.
What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?
The biggest piece of advice that I have for future applicants is to be interested in the research that you are conducting. If you are passionate about your work you will be more inclined to work on it and learn as much as you can about your topic. The passion you have for your project will carry through to your application and reviewers will be able to see that dedication when they read your essay. I would also recommend to have a close relationship with your mentors and have them read your essay so that they can fill in any gaps in you understanding about the project.