Born: San Francisco Bay, California
Education: B.S. Cognitive Science specialized in Neuroscience (2014)
University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
Work Experience Includes:
Student Researcher, Department of Neurosciences. University of California, San Diego (2013-2014)
Maximizing Access to Research Career Scholar (2012-2014)
The number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases has increased to over 34 million individuals worldwide. Combined antiretroviral therapies have increased HIV-positive patients’ life expectancy; however, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders have become more prevalent.
Under the direction of Dr. Eliezer Masliah and Dr. J Adam Fields, I investigated HIV-induced changes in mitochondrial fusion/fission proteins to better understand their contribution to neurodegeneration and neurocognitive impairments. Specifically, we studied by GTPases mitofusion (MFN) 1 and 2, and dynamin-related protein (DRP) 1 dysregulation in HIV-infected donor samples of varied cognitive deficiencies and HIV-1 glycoprotein 120 transgenic mice. In healthy cells, mitochondria provide cellular energy, regulates Ca2+, and apoptosis, while an imbalance of fusion/fission protein activity may lead to dysfunction in these processes and ultimately cause cell death. We propose HIV gp120 shed from infected cells interacts with neurons and alters mitochondrial fusion and fission proteins and contributes to neurodegeration in neocortical regions, therefore, contributing to neurocognitive impairments.
My passion for biomedical research in diseases and disorders with significant cognitive symptoms is what brought me to the Thinakaran lab. With my interdisciplinary education and diverse research background, I hope to provide support for the existing research and significantly contribute to further endeavors.