Overlap in Penk and Y1R Genes Involved in Pain and Hunger

Yaelee Valencia-Aguilera


Project Summary

My research project’s purpose was to investigate the genes and neurons related to hunger-pain pathways. The larger goal of this research was to understand how these pathways influence food-seeking behaviors in humans and how stress and fear can alter these behaviors, specifically within the context of the obesity epidemic. The methods of this research included implanting fibers in the regions of the brain we wanted to examine in several mice, and using data programs to analyze the data. Additionally, pain assays were conducted that examined how often mice licked themselves after receiving formalin injections in their paws. These pain assays were useful in understanding how pain influenced and overlapped with hunger circuits. Together, these various methodologies guided me and gave me the results presented in my poster.
I first became interested in doing research by hearing about research my professors had done during biology lectures, and I was intrigued by the process. I also wanted to see if a future in research was for me, and after doing research over summer and enjoying it, I can confidently say I am interested in pursuing this area of study as a possible career choice! Participating in this research was also helpful in solidifying my understanding of biological and neurological concepts I learned in my classes, as I saw how some of these concepts were applied in “real-life” scenarios, such as learning about parts of the brain, and reactions between chemicals. I also learned some practical life and workplace skills like cooperating and communicating with a team efficiently. This experience was extremely valuable in my educational and professional growth and I’m very grateful to have been a part of it.


To see my poster, visit Penn Presents: https://presentations.curf.upenn.edu/poster/overlap-penk-y1r-genes-invol...