Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SRAP Student Spotlight: Danielle, Liver Damage and Cell Digestion

SRAPer: Danielle Obando

 Home State: Florida

 Year in school: Junior

 Plans after high school: Attend Stanford, studying forensic science or veterinary medicine.

For Danielle Obando, her interests in the science fields are a family affair.
“My grandpa was an engineer, so that got me into mathematics,” says Danielle. “After that, I started joining math and science competitions at school.”
Danielle’s interest in math and science led her to SRAP, where she is working with Yinan Hua, a graduate student in Dr. Sreejayan Nair’s Pharmacy lab. Along with her fellow SRAP lab mate, Esmeralda, Danielle is studying cathepsin k, an enzyme found in the lysosome of cells. The lysosome is responsible for the breakdown of waste material and cellular debris. It is believed that cathepsin k can help with the control and treatment of certain diseases, such as heart disease.
“My project studies the effect of cathepsin k on the liver, but with my project, we’re studying the effects on starved mice,” says Danielle. “We’re just seeing how autophagy is different between the wild-type mice and the starved mice.”
Autophagy is the degradation or self-digestion of a cell or cellular components. Along with understanding how autophagy effects starved and healthy mice differently, Danielle is studying how cathepsin k can be used to help restore damage in the liver.
Danielle is enjoying the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience outside of the classroom.
“I like that we’re able to use a lot of equipment we wouldn’t be able to use in our high school,” she says.
SRAP is a six-week long intensive research program based at the University of Wyoming and sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR. It concluded Friday, July 19th with formal presentations by Danielle and her fellow SRAPers.

By Robin E. Rasmussen

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