Bio Lab Research Offers Clues to Brain Disorders

Students in Cellular Neurobiology (BIO/NEUR 431W) performed a groundbreaking original research project this semester with Dr. Jennifer Round, assistant professor of Biology. Using a screening approach known as the yeast 2-hybrid assay, they identified novel binding partners for a protein that is linked to nervous system disorders such as Tourette syndrome, OCD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Their findings shed new light on the cell signaling events that control nervous system wiring. Their work also paves the way for many exciting new independent research projects in the Round Lab.

Biology ResearchersDr. Round explains: “We know that some people with these disorders have a defective version of this protein, but we don’t know much about what this protein is doing at the cellular level. How does this protein help neurons wire together in a precise pattern to form brain circuits? How do defective versions of the protein lead to faulty wiring? Identifying binding partners gives us valuable clues as to the exact function of the protein. Not only will we understand more about the incredibly complex process of brain wiring, but we will also gain a better understanding of the cellular defects that cause disease. Knowing the root causes of a disease paves the way for more effective treatments.”

Three students, Laura Drebushenko, Anahi McIntyre, and Devin Radosky, will conduct independent research to confirm their findings next semester and will be presenting their work at CoSA in the spring.

Students pictured are, front L-R: Aaron Macedonia, Karch Connors, Laura Drebrushenko; middle L-R: Linda Muller, Vivek Reddy, Melissa Arey, Devin Radosky, Anahi McIntyre, Kelsey Heimbaugh, Michelle Swenson, Kelly Cannon, Charles Lee, Jane Lee; back L-R: Evan Stutchin, John Ryan, Lauren MacDonough, Jessica Finafrock

One thought on “Bio Lab Research Offers Clues to Brain Disorders

  1. Dr. Round is leading her students to learn science by making discoveries. This is exactly what every national study on STEM education recommends. Kudos to Dr. Round and her students for their blended learning and research lab course.