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SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program. Additional AOs for the Amgen Scholars program can be found here.

Specific GROWTH projects being offerred for summer 2018 can be found here.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  Gut-Brain Interactions in Huntington's Disease
Disciplines:  Neuroscience, Biology
Mentor:  Ali Khoshnan, Senior Research Scientist, (BBE),
Background:  Aberrations in the physiology of gastrointestinal (GI) tract and disruptions in the homeostasis of intestinal microbiota are implicated in several brain disorders. Huntington’s disease (HD) patients display GI complications and metabolic abnormalities. However, the cause and contribution of GI dysfunction to the progression of neurological symptoms have not been investigated. We predict that HD patients have altered intestinal microbiota (dysbiosis), which may contribute GI dysfunction, systemic inflammation, mutant huntingtin (mHTT) aggregation, and brain pathology. In support of this this hypothesis, we find that inflammatory bacterial products promote the oligomerization of mHTT in neurons, immune cells derived from HD patients, and epithelial cells. Moreover, in Drosophila models of HD, inflammation-inducing bacteria promote the aggregation of mutant HTT and exacerbate motor behavior. We plan to identify novel microbes and molecular pathways, which regulate microbiota-gut-brain communications in the Drosophila models of HD.
Description:  Student will produce HD flies in the presence or absence of specific bacteria, examine flies for the production of inflammatory biomarkers by molecular techniques, immunostain stain the flies’ nervous system and examine for mHTT oligomerization by confocal microscopy, and perform motor behaviors.
References:  N/A
Student Requirements:  Molecular biology techniques, Biochemistry, immunology. Working knowledge on maintaining and crossing Drosophila preferred, but not necessary.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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