Jose Pablo Vazquez-Medina, Professor

Closed (1) Role of lung peroxiredoxin 6 in ferroptosis

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

The objective of the project is to study the role of lung peroxiredoxin 6 (Prdx6) in ferroptosis. Ferroptosis is a newly described form of cell death triggered by intracellular increases in lipid hydroperoxides. Prdx6 is highly expressed in the lung, and it is capable of reducing lipid hydroperoxides. This enzyme plays a crucial role in lung diseases characterized by increased oxidative stress.

The student will conduct experiments involving basic biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology techniques including primary tissue culture, gene and protein expression analyses and live-cell fluorescence microscopy. The student will participate in lab meetings and journal club discussions. At the end of the internship, the student will be experienced in basic experimental wet lab procedures, will be able to read scientific literature and will gain knowledge of experimental design and interpretation of scientific data.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Andrea Salvador-Pascual, Post-Doc

Qualifications: Basic knowledge of mammalian tissue culture is highly desirable.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Related website: https://www.vazquezmedinalab.com/

Closed (2) Fasting-associated changes in elephant seal blubber and muscle during postnatal development

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

This project seeks to identify the cellular-level changes in muscle and blubber from northern elephant seal pups during the post-weaning fasts. Elephant seal pups nurse from their mothers for ~1 month, after which they are abruptly weaned and carry out a terrestrial post-weaning fast for several months prior to undertaking their first at-sea foraging trip. During the fasting period pups are developing the physiological adjustments which support extended breath-hold diving in this species, including increased body oxygen store capacity. For most mammals, prolonged fasting initiates a number of damaging cellular processes, though in elephant seals this does not appear to be the case and in fact pups are capable of supporting anabolic cellular processes in the absence of nutrient intake during the fasting period. This project aims to identify and quantify changes in blubber structure and composition across the fasting period, as blubber is the primary fuel source for pups while fasting. Additionally, this project aims to characterize the metabolic profiles of muscle cells collected from elephant seal pups early and late in the fasting period, and to contrast cellular fuel preferences across the fast using respirometry in intact cells.

* This project will be a combination of virtual and in-person work *

The student will learn relevant experimental techniques including:
- Image processing and quantification using Zen and FIJI softwares
- Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence
- Mammalian tissue culture and sterile technique
- Intact cell respirometry

The student is expected to participate in weekly laboratory meetings and journal club discussions, schedule permitting. At the end of the apprenticeship, the student will be experienced in basic wet lab methods as listed above, will be able to read scientific literature in the field, and will gain knowledge pertaining to experimental design and interpretation of scientific data.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Kaitlin Allen, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: The student must be willing to learn, and capable of performing tasks independently after training. Must be reliable, organized, and communicative. Experience with cell culture and/or basic biochemistry or molecular biology is desirable but not required. All pertinent methods training will be provided.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Related website: https://www.vazquezmedinalab.com/

Closed (3) Developing ex vivo tissue culture systems for marine megafauna

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

The focus of this project is to develop tissue culture models to answer mechanistic questions that are relevant to physiological responses during diving and under stress conditions in large marine vertebrates. In a primary tissue culture system, live proliferating cells can be functionally reprogrammed into other cell types via in vitro overexpression of key genes. Our aim is to reprogram skin cells (fibroblasts) into muscle progenitor cells (myoblasts) that can be differentiated into muscle fibers to study the effects of stress exposure on muscle metabolism in whales and elephant seals. Additionally, we are working on developing an immortalized cell lines from primary cells in these species. Finally, this project will examine sea turtles’ adaptations to hypoxia by characterizing gene expression and reactive oxygen species generation under differential environmental oxygen concentrations.

Tasks may include but are not limited to tissue culture, immunofluorescence, DNA and RNA extractions, nucleic acid extractions, bacterial transformations, plasmid extractions, and sanger sequencing prep.
In addition to the lab work, the student is expected to participate in lab meetings and journal club discussion, and to familiarize with the scientific literature relevant to this project.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Emily Lam and Gabriela Arango, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Ability to perform tasks independently and a strong willingness to learn. Responsible, reliable and organized. Basic knowledge or experience with cell culture/basic molecular biology is highly desirable.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Related website: https://www.vazquezmedinalab.com/

Closed (4) Impact of acute and chronic glucocorticoid exposure on cellular oxidative stress

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

The aim of this project is to examine the impact of acute and chronic glucocorticoids (GC) on marine mammal muscle cells. Environmental and ecological stressors increase the concentration of circulating GC potentially affecting an individual’s behavior, physiology, and fitness. However, the consequences of chronic GC exposure remain elusive in many species, and particularly in marine mammals. Such lack of knowledge hinders our ability to predict health outcomes in response to increased exposure to environmental stressors and anthropogenic activities. The goal of This project is to identify pathways that differ between acute and chronic stress as well as predict the effects of increased stressors.

The student will learn relevant experimental techniques including mammalian tissue culture, immunofluorescence, RNA extraction, nucleic acid extractions, ELISA, qRT-PCR, and western blot. The student will participate in lab meetings and journal club discussions. At the end of the internship, the student will be experienced in basic wet lab procedures, sterile techniques, will be able to read scientific literature, and will gain knowledge of experimental design and interpretation of scientific data.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Dr. David Ensminger

Qualifications: Basic knowledge or experience with cell cultures/molecular biology are highly desired

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Related website: https://www.vazquezmedinalab.com/