Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Introduction to My Blog and Summer Research Plans

Hello all!

My name is Lauren Tolat and I have just completed my first year at the University of Houston. I am a Tier One Scholar, a Pre-Pharmacy major, and a member of the Honors College. This summer, I will be embarking on an exciting research opportunity with the College of Pharmacy, my faculty advisor, Dr. Bradley K. McConnell, and my graduate student mentor, Qiying Fan. I will be sharing my weekly logs, updates, and news with all of you in regards to this slow yet beautiful thing called research! Thanks to my Tier One scholarship and the help of friendly UH faculty members, I am privileged to have this opportunity. 

I will be working in the research lab from May 21st through August 10th. Here's a summary of what I will be working on:
Project title:
Cell Signaling in Health and in Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the USA, affecting more than 12 million Americans. Furthermore, nearly 5 million patients in the USA have heart failure; where the heart is unable to efficiently pump blood. Research interests in the laboratory focuses on the genetics and physiology of heart disease and atherosclerosis, as it relates to normal healthy and diseased hearts and vasculature. In particular, our goals are to define mechanisms and to investigate strategies to improve cardiac and vascular smooth muscle (VSMC) function in cardiovascular disease.
There are several projects in Dr. McConnell’s laboratory focusing on targeted disruption of beta-adrenergic signaling to alter cardiac contractility. In particular, the lab is focused on studying the signal transduction pathways in the heart .This course will give the student, Lauren Tolat, the opportunities to obtain research experience and learn advanced laboratory techniques. 
Lab Techniques:
1.      Cardiomyocyte and VSMC isolation
2.      Histology and Immunohistochemisty (sectioning, staining, and imaging)
3.      SDS-PAGE gel to separate proteins based on molecular weight
4.      Western blotting for total protein and phospho-protein detection
5.      Data analysis, chart and figure creation and presentation 

Thanks for tuning in. I will have more to post in the forthcoming weeks.

~Lauren Tolat


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