The rat pheochromocytoma cell line, AKA PC12, is a model cell line used to investigate neuronal differentiation. PC12 cells respond to nerve growth factor (NGF) by generating dendritic extensions, which are a typical characteristic of neuronal cells. A fundamental understanding and characterization of neural response to NGF is essential to developing this cell line as a model system for our studies of the impact of molecules effecting neuronal growth and intercellular interaction. Here, neurite behaviors of PC12 were quantified with cells in serum rich, serum starved, and serum starved with NGF media up to 168 hours. A confocal microscope was then used to determine the phenotypic structure of the PC12 cells by staining structural proteins, and the nucleus of the cell. Neuronal use of collagen 1 coding gene LARP6 has also been investigated due to the lack of collagen type fibers inside neuronal cells. Here, PC12 cells were cultured and analyzed with confocal imagery using antibodies to locate the expression of the LARP6 gene with and without the presence of NGF. The location of the LARP6 protein determined the expression of the gene in dendrites, confirming the feasibility of future research to assess the function of the gene.

What inspired you (or your team)?

I grew up learning how to mow lawns and build houses with my dad. When I wasn’t outside working I scanned encyclopedias and watched VHS documentaries. I was a 10 year old obsessed with hospitals, particularly the neurosurgeons. The science of the brain blew my mind. Everything I had ever experienced was contained inside an organ right behind my eyes.

My great-grandmother had Alzheimers. Having a genetic predisposition to the disease, I was constantly investigating new research on its causes and cures. Visiting the senior home was a surreal experience. At school I would often wonder what it would feel like not to remember. I was the kid who wanted to know everything and the thought of losing that mental capability was terrifying.

After taking Biology and Anatomy & Physiology my heart gravitated towards a career in the medical field. The human body was infinitely fascinating, an introspective existential experience. I turned my mortal life into the greatest hands-on experiment. As a philosophical adolescent, I started to conglomerate my theories with science. I sought out professors with connections to neurology and was able to research the questions that could carry me towards greater explorations of the human mind.