Submitted by Andrew Choi
The fact that I was able to learn so many new concepts throughout the close-to-five weeks I have interned here at Cedars Sinai seems to be very surreal, mostly thanks to Gen! There were new and, as I would regard them, very valuable occurrences since my last blog update as an intern in the CIRM Research Program.
During the first two weeks, I read and annotated scientific articles so that I can assimilate, although not entirely, with many of the techniques that my mentor has used throughout her career. These articles and scientific journals that I read did not solely pertain to techniques such as stereology, but also background information, which I found to be quite helpful throughout the latter weeks of my internship.
I’d say that my studies for the coming weeks are continuations of preliminary findings and data gathered by my mentor. My mentor’s research project is majorly based on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a devastating disorder causing detriments to lives across the globe. ALS is a disorder or a condition in which motor neurons controlling muscle function degenerate leading to paralysis and ultimately, death.
My research project that I will be focusing on this summer is the effect of neural progenitors engineered to produce growth factors on degenerated motor neurons. In order to observe the experimental data, my mentor and I performed a technique called immunocytochemistry (ICC) where we treated neuronal stem cells with certain antibodies such as Stem121 (recognizing anti-human cytoplasm) and recognizing various growth factors. Thinking back to the time when I performed ICC with my mentor, I am very grateful for my mentor’s patience (haha!)!! I broke several coverslips with the forceps here and there while trying to prepare the slides. We incorporated the MBF Stereology software to our protocol to quantify our qualitative data. These techniques enabled me to count and characterize cells expressing certain markers so that I can evaluate the differences (if any) in the differentiated cells, neurons and astrocytes. I don’t necessarily consider myself to be decent at these techniques, but rather a pretty experienced amateur.
You may think that staring at a screen for several hours and counting cells with stereology, may have drained my eyes and enthusiasm, but the excitement I have for the program continues to thrive! I become more excited every day to know that my mentor has new concepts and life lessons to teach me!