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Humans and Biology

location_on Location: Emanuele A

(Links to papers / posters are embargoed until 4/7)

access_time April 08 01:00-01:50

All times in Eastern Time Zone

  • assignment_ind Poynter, M. “ The Connection Between Your Nervous System and Depression: The Role of Oligodendrocytes ”
    Recent studies have shown a linkage between psychiatric disorders and glial cells of the nervous system, including oligodendrocytes. The pathogenesis of depression is still unclear, but recent evidence suggests a connection between oligodendrocytes and depression. Oligodendrocytes (OLs) are non-neuronal, glia cells of the central nervous system that place a fatty covering on the axons of some neurons through a process called myelination. An evaluation and synthesis of the recent research conducted on the connection between oligodendrocytes and depression can provide a greater insight into the pathogenesis of depression and the role OLs can play. Due to the increasing diagnosis of depression within the United States, the understanding of the mechanism of depression and OLs could lead to a more effective diagnosis and treatment.
  • assignment_ind Staffeld, J. “ Role of the Ventral Hippocampus to Nucleus Accumbens Pathway in Individual Differences in Appetitive Learning ”
    A critical issue in substance abuse research is why some individuals can actively use addictive drugs and quit with relative ease, while others may only try a small dose before becoming life-long dependent . The use of designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) may shed light on individual differences in learning behaviors and why some individuals seem to be more prone to addiction and relapse than others. Using stereotaxic surgery on rats, we used an in vivo dual-vector approach to bilaterally inject Cre recombinase into the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and an excitatory Cre-dependent, G protein-coupled DREADD into the ventral hippocampus (vHPC). Five weeks after surgery, we injected clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) to selectively activate this pathway, allowing us to determine whether activation of the vHPC–NAc projection affects acquisition and/or expression of Pavlovian conditioned approach behavior. Preliminary results support a differential role of the vHPC—NAc pathway in sign and goal tracking behaviors. Full results will be presented. Current and future findings may add to our understanding of how learning and neurological activity may play a role in behaviors associated with addiction in human beings.
  • assignment_ind Welsch, K. “ Rising Controversies: The Ethicality of Germline Editing ”
    As medicine continues to make rapid advancements across various fields, questions of ethics are still as quick to follow, particularly under the branch of genetics. Consequentially, one of the more recent progressions in genetics, germline editing, has become a subject of debate among those in the scientific community. Germline editing consists of editing reproductive cells at the embryonic stage in order to select, enhance, or delete certain genetic components that would be passed down to the embryo. In the scientific community, there are those in favor and those that are greatly opposed to such an idea, all due to its ethical slippery slope nature. The approval of those in favor is influenced by germline editing’s ability to prevent certain genetic defects, such as Huntington’s disease and inherited blindness. As for those in opposition, their concerns stem from the blurring of lines between germline editing and eugenics as well as the effects such power could have on unborn children and parents, both genetically and societally. Within this paper, the question of ethics is explored on a deeper level as we dive into the subject of genetic editing at the embryonic stage. We will look into the arguments made on both sides of the topic, under an ethical lens, in order to develop a better understanding of both the practice as well as the possible outcomes and consequences that could arise from its use.
View schedule for Thursday, April 7th
View schedule for Friday, April 8th
View schedule for Saturday, April 9th