The Effects of General Anesthetics on Synaptic and Cognitive Function
This past summer, I had the opportunity to work under the mentorship of Dr. Huafeng Wei and Dr. Maryellen Eckenhoff as part of the Department of Anesthesiology at the Perelman School of Medicine. Previously, the lab conducted research into the effect of anesthetics on synaptic and cognitive function via the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R), a calcium channel in the endoplasmic reticulum. However, the original investigator moved on and the results went unpublished. Our goal for the summer involved preparing a manuscript for publication communicating these results.
As I am new to the study of biological pathways, one of the greater challenges I faced involved learning and understanding the background material and experimental methods. Thus, one of my first tasks involved reading relevant literature and gathering potential references for the paper. Once I built a solid understanding of the experiment, I began to sort through the original raw data in external hard drives, using the lab notebooks to ensure that each set of data was accounted for in the experiment. With the help of my mentors, I reanalyzed the raw data in a statistics software, and based on the statistical significance of a result, I compared the conclusions to the initial hypothesis. My responsibilities also included creating figures to illustrate the experimental timeline and the pathways we investigated. Using the papers I found for reference, I practiced writing the abstract for the manuscript.
Working remotely, I honed critical organization and communication skills by keeping regular correspondence with my mentors and the original investigator, providing progress updates at weekly lab meetings, and creating presentations on the results of my data mining. In addition, I have had the opportunity to work with software such as AI, EndNote, and GraphPad Prism.
Through this program, I gained valuable insight on the process of constructing a scientific manuscript. I hope to continue my work with the lab during the academic year.