Congratulations to our 2017 CJSJ Finalists!
Alby Joseph-Optimized Fatty Acid Binding Protein Inhibitors: Augmenting the Viability of a Novel Pain-Relief Mechanism
The risks and side-effects associated with current pain treatments have prompted the investigation of novel pain-relief mechanisms. This study focused on the inhibition of fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs), such as FABP5, as a novel therapeutic pathway. Although previous studies have named SB-FI-26 as a potent FABP inhibitor, the compound has yet to be optimized to create a more practical drug candidate. In this study, a novel drug candidate (SB-FI- 95) with greater binding affinity and selectivity to FABP5 was developed in silico, synthesized, and evaluated in vitro. Computational and in vitro results ultimately pointed to a new class of mono-amide α-truxillic acids with fused ring moieties as potential next-generation pain-relieving agents.
Sneha Sharma-Extracting Biofuels from Spent Coffee Grounds and Waste Pine Needles
This study evaluates the viability and efficacy of extracting biofuels from spent coffee grounds (SCG) and waste pine needles (WPN). The extraction was conducted with a Soxhlet extractor using isopropanol and hexane solvents. Conclusively, isopropanol was found to be a more effective extracting solvent than hexane, and both WPN and SCG were found to be viable sources of biofuel.
Jennifer He-Numerical Modeling of Fabric Surface and Simulation of Parachute Inflation in Turbulent Flow
Cargo parachutes were tested under varying conditions to prevent entanglement of the wires connecting each parachute to the cargo and to reduce the costs of testing new parachutes. By altering the velocity of the upward draft and the mass of the cargo, the angle between parachute chord and the fluid dynamics of each situation are calculated.
Hyunsun Kim-Measuring the Impact of Climate Change in Mexico
Climate change in the near future is expected to disproportionately harm developing nations. Focusing on weather conditions in Mexico, we use Python to cross-reference data from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) climate models to predict changes in temperature and precipitation. Basing our calculations on Mexico’s historical weather data from 1985 to 2005, we project our findings over the years 2060 to 2080. We find a general increase in average daily temperature, as well as a rise in yearly extreme temperatures. As for precipitation, we find continuously limited rainfall in the north and slightly higher rainfall in the south. Overall, our research suggests a combination of high extreme temperatures and low rainfall in the future that will especially harm the large portions of the population that work outside, yielding adverse consequences such as a decrease in viable food production and a decline in the health of the public.
Jessalyn Chuang-Protein Profiling of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus
The purpose of this study was to utilize the Protein Pathway Array (PPA) method, a multiplex immunoblot assay combined with computational analysis, to analyze the dysregulation of placental protein signals between normal and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus cases (GDM). This aided in finding novel biomarker candidates for the early detection and treatment of GDM. Results showed that there was significant dysregulation of 21 proteins involved in GDM placentas as compared to those in normal placentas, including 15 upregulated and 6 downregulated proteins. These 21 proteins can be used as diagnostic biomarkers for GDM earlier in gestation and as potential targets for intervention.
Andrew Fang & Justin Lee-4-Methylimidazole as a Contributor in the Pathogenesis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI) likely poses as a contributor in the progression of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The purpose of the study was to investigate 4-MEI’s ability to promote IBD development in the human colon on the cellular and molecular level. Cytokine expression and cell viability analyses of human colon cells were conducted to measure degree of inflammation and cell death (N=3). 4-MEI significantly promoted expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNF-α and decreased anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 expression, inducing inflammation in human colon cells on the molecular level. 4-MEI significantly increased cell death of human colon cells, promoting IBD development on the cellular level. Overall, 4-MEI was found to contribute towards the progression of IBD and to potentially serve as a threat to public health.
Lauren Adachi, Jeffrey van Haren, & Torsten Wittmann-Optimizing Light-Controllable Proteins for Optogenetics Experiments
The blue light receptor of Avena sativa’s phototropin 1, or LOV2 domain, is a powerful building block for the development of optogenetics tools. When inserted into a protein of interest, it makes the protein light controllable. LOV2 domains have been implemented to create various light-driven proteins. However, this technique has not been refined to optimize protein manipulation. A LOV2 domain’s degree of spatial and temporal control of proteins is, in part, determined by its recovery rate, or the rate at which it switches between active and inactive states. Activation of the wild type LOV2 domain occurs within a second, however, recovery from the active to the inactive state is much slower (>1m), limiting its use for applications that require precise control. By measuring flavin fluorescence, the recovery rates of 18 LOV2 mutants were analyzed, and variants with extremely fast or slow recovery halftimes were identified. In doing so, we aimed to create a diverse library of optimized LOV2 variants that could permit for better protein manipulation.
Malhaar Agrawal-Disparities in the INcidence and Mortality of Cancers in Brooklyn, New York and the United States
Health disparities among minority populations and socioeconomic groups are of concern for equitable health care delivery. This analysis sought to identify disparities in incidence and mortality of selected cancers in different racial groups in an underserved community, and compared those with the United States data. Higher mortality was identified for the three selected cancers in Blacks and Hispanics, markedly so in Brooklyn. Notably, incidence and mortality of prostate cancer was substantially higher in Blacks and Hispanics in Brooklyn.
Raymond M. Huffman & Liliana D. Florea-Computational Analysis of Intron Retention Events in Alternatively Spliced mRNA
Alternative splicing is an inherent gene regulatory mechanism, allowing for a single gene to code for a multitude of proteins. Intron retention is a class of alternative splicing variation that occurs when a region of DNA intended to be spliced out and removed before proteins are constructed is instead included in the final mRNA transcript, at times drastically modifying the final protein construct. This study investigates potential intron retention events to reveal hallmarks of the process. This analysis revealed that read coverage and the portion of the intron aligned can be used to identify and differentiate intron retention events.
Aidan Chalnick-Surveying the Relationship Between Phenotypes and Biofilm Formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Bacterial biofilms can impede the effects of antibiotics in destroying a colony. The bacterial biofilm is composed of highly organized layers of cells that operate in a manner comparable to a single unit, whilst surrounded by a mucoid polymer lining. This research consisted of surveying 243 wild Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates and their growth patterns related to biofilm formation on six different types of media. The data for each colony was cross-referenced to its strain’s source to infer how the cells act in different environments. This can further corroborate a previous understanding of biofilms as well as define clear implications for future research into infection specific patterns.
Ryan Jin-Immune Response to Klebsiella pneumoniae Sequence Type 258 (S258) Clinical Isolates
Carbapenemase-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP), a nosocomial, community-acquired infection with a mortality rate as high as 50%, have become increasingly prevalent and difficult to treat. The virulence factors involved in pathogenesis of these organisms remain to be fully understood. Further characterization of the genomic and molecular basis of these factors is thus vital for future diagnostics and antimicrobial therapies. This study examined the innate immune response at the proteomic, molecular, and phagocytic level to K. pneumoniae producing carbapenemases sequence type 258 (ST258) isolates infection compared to the serotypic ATCC 43816 (KPPR1) reference strain. We found that the locally predominant ST258 isolate KP35, possessing a novel arcD arginine transporter, increased macrophage activation of protein synthesis directly associated with the pathways of phagocytosis and nitric oxide/reactive oxygen species production. The normal immune function of phagocytosis was elevated in response to KP35 and NR1155 while these ST258 demonstrated intracellular persistence.
Tyler Huang-Central Sensitization and Chronic Pain in HIV
This study is the first of its kind to provide evidence suggesting that central sensitization may be an important component of chronic pain in people living with HIV (PLWH).
Tiffeny Chen & Matthew Palmadessa-The use of Nanofluids to Improve the performance of a Parabolic Concentrator Tubular still Coupled with a solar Still
In order to enhance desalination, a coupled parabolic tubular and pyramidal solar still system was used with the addition of nanofluids. Efficiency was confirmed through distillate yield, UV-Vis spectroscopy, viscosity, thermal conductivity, and cost analysis. It was found that lower concentrations of nanofluids most effectively enhanced performance because of the increased heat transfer due to Brownian motion.
Audrey Laude-the use of Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) as a Thermoresponsive Material in 4d Printing
4D printing is a new technology involving constructs that change their properties over time to form 3D configurations. Because of these constructs’ ability to keep cells viable, they provide a potential solution to the shortage of organ donors. To achieve the final goal of 4D printing a heart, a substrate layer has to fold up, pulling a hydrogel layer and attached cells with it. Poly(N-Isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm) was tested as a possible thermoresponsive substrate. In order to optimize the folding process, different thicknesses of hydrogels were tested with the PNIPAm. At 37ºC, PNIPAm contracted and folded upwards. The bending angle was found to correlate with the hydrogel layer thickness, suggesting that it has the flexibility to form any desired angles. This research will allow for the creation of artificial hearts that can help with the current shortage of transplants.
Jessica Li, Crystal Li & William Peng,-Lambda-cyhalothrin increases amyloid-beta peptides' toxicity: implications for Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects more than 5 million Americans annually, a figure that has tripled in the past 50 years. A major hallmark of AD is the accumulation of amyloid-beta peptides. This study investigates the undiscovered association between lambda-cyhalothrin (λC), a common chemical in pesticides, and amyloid-beta peptides (Aß). Using cell-viability tests, λC combined with Aß was observed to result in a significant increase in neuronal cell death when compared to Aß or λC alone. Furthermore, a molecular biological experiment showed that this chemical drives the expressions of Beta-secretase 1 (BACE-1) and Beta-secretase 2 (BACE-2), enzymes that affect the regulation of Aß, showing that λC may stimulate Aß production. This study prompts the reevaluation of pesticides containing λC and offers new insights on Alzheimer's disease mechanisms.
David Yaffe-An Approach to the Creation of A Fully Automatic Computational Tool for H&E stained Whole Slide iMages of Thyroid Cancer
This article presents an experimental discovery study of a potential first step in future computational analysis programs of Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) stained slides. Over the past decade, increases in computational power and improvement in image analysis algorithms have allowed the development of powerful computer-assisted diagnostic tools. These tools are used to help an experienced pathologist make an even more accurate diagnosis. But there is a need for the development of a fully automatic computational tool that is easy to use and widely accessible. There is a stark contrast between the accessibility in third world countries, such as Tanzania and Chad compared to the U.S. The survival rate of cancer patients is likely reduced as the correct diagnosis may not be consistently derived. If a fully automatic computational analysis tool that is accurate can be created, it could increase the survival rate of those who do not have access to an expert pathologist. In order to further progress towards that end, a tiling approach was tested as a key beginning step in future programs because of its many benefits and was confirmed by a heat map that was able to discriminate between cancerous and noncancerous regions.
Zachary Leng & Alexander Hom-The effect of uv radiation of nucleotide excision repair in mutated strains of caenorhabditis elegans
The prevalence of skin cancer continues to be the most common kind of cancer and has been associated with deficiency in Nucleotide Excision Repair. All groups of C. Elegans were exposed to 15 minutes of UV radiation and the lifespan for all groups was tested and pictures of the phenotypical differences among the groups were taken. The results showed that radiation caused the lifespan of C. Elegans to decrease significantly when compared to non- irradiated groups.
Sidhanth Khatoria-novel study on the effect of the Pre-exposure of ocimum tenuiflorum and curcuma longa on the elevated heart rate of daphnia magna when exposed to caffeine
According to American Heart Association (2015) cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. Arrhythmia, which is an irregularity of the heartbeat, is a common heart problem. While there are various allopathic treatments for arrhythmia, most cause negative side effects. Ocimum tenuiflorum and Curcuma longa are herbs that contain antioxidants, which in lowering the risk of heart irregularities. The purpose of this research is to determine if antioxidants help in lowering the high heart rate of Daphnia magna. The results show that the herbs may be a promising solution in reducing high heart rate.
Ryan Thorpe and Rachel Chang-The Use of a Potentiostatic, π-π Interacted, CVD Graphene Biosensor with Lactate Oxidase Immobilization to Detect E. coli Presence in Water
This project focused on creating a graphene-based device that was capable of detecting low levels of E. coli in a rapid time frame. Through the immobilization of lactate oxidase, the production of L-lactate from E. coli during respiration created an electrical current that could be measured by a potentiostat. This biosensor detected <1 CFU (Colony Forming Unit) of E. coli in ~1 second.
Tiffany (Puxi) Qin, Tiffany Dong, and Trevor Leong-Regulation of the endogenous opiate signaling pathway against oxidative stress and inflammation and its implication for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease
Oxidative stress and inflammation are factors contributing to progressive death of dopaminergic cells in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Recent studies demonstrated that morphine’s biosynthetic pathway coupled with nitric oxide release has been conserved throughout animal and human evolution. Our objective was to evaluate whether or not morphine alleviated oxidative stress and inflammation in cells, as well as increased cell viability, under PD-like conditions. We found that morphine significantly inhibited rotenone-induced dopaminergic cell death in human nerve cells in addition to finding that naloxone hydrochloride (HCl), an opiate antagonist that can block morphine’s effect. Our study proposes that morphine stimulates nitric oxide signaling mechanism by binding to its receptor, thus providing effective protection against oxidative stress and inflammation. Therefore, regulation of morphine biosynthesis may yield new treatments for Parkinson’s disease.