Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2021
Research Project: Quantitative analysis of aquaporin 4ex (AQP4ex) expression in the human and murine brain
Project Description: The glymphatic system (a network of perivascular spaces that facilitate fluid movement and solute clearance from the brain) and its dysfunction associated with aging has been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The water channel aquaporin 4 (AQP4), located in the astrocytic endfeet bordering the perivascular spaces, is crucial for the proper functioning of the glymphatic system. In our study, we quantitatively analyze the expression of aquaporin 4ex (AQP4ex) – a translational readthrough of AQP4 believed to play a role in its localization – to identify any correlation with aging and AD pathology.
What have you learned throughout your research project?
Perseverance is key! No project runs 100% smoothly, and it’s okay to get frustrated at bumps in the road or not know where to go next. Learning how to push through adversity has been incredibly valuable for me, and I am very grateful to my mentors for being a great example of how to productively tackle roadblocks and creatively problem-solve.
What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?
Immerse yourself in your project. Ask why things are being done a certain way, what your targets of interest are, and how your methods serve to represent them. Don’t just settle for knowing the steps of a protocol, uncover the deeper significance behind your project so you can understand the science better as well!