Fold It Up! Proteins, RNA, and Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Baotram in front of microscope

Students

2021
College

Faculty

Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics Departmen

Project Summary

The lab I worked in is doing research to understand the mechanisms of proteostasis (how the cell regulates the proper folding of protein) and RNA homeostasis with the end goal of finding a cure for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. It is hypothesized that the aggregation (clumping) of proteins and long repeat sequences of RNA is the cause of neurodegeneration. My lab is trying to understand exactly how aggregation happens and to cure neurodegenerative diseases by reversing the aggregation.

I came into the lab having no formal research experience; by the end of the summer, I learned many basic lab skills. I learned how to create reactants for experiments, how to design an experiment, and how to keep a detailed record of everything in my lab notebook. Not only did I gain wet lab skills and knowledge about neurodegenerative diseases, but I also learned about how a lab operates, especially about how researchers collaborate with each other by troubleshooting problems and giving each other new ideas.

Although I took Biol 101 (Intro to Biology) the semester before starting in the lab, I didn’t truly understand the concepts taught in that class until I got the opportunity to see them in action. Working on this research project has made me realize the importance of what I am taught in class and has made me more excited and motivated to keep learning.