Douglas L Feinstein

    Email Address:
    College: Medicine Department: Anesthesiology
    Title: Research Professor
    Office: MSB E720
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    Our research mainly focuses on the disease Multiple Sclerosis which affects about 1 million people in the USA. For this we do experiments using cells prepared from the brain, including astrocytes, microglia, neurons, and oligodendrocytes (OLs). The OLs are the cells that synthesize myelin which wraps around axons, and is lost in MS. We treat the cells with a variety of drugs to see which reduce the 'toxic' actions of some of the cells, which increase neuronal survival, and which cause the OLs to make more myelin.

    To gain a better understanding of the disease, we use 2 different mouse models of MS. In one, the mice develop disease symptoms similar to MS patients, and we use this model to test if our drugs reduce those symptoms, and reduce brain pathology. In the 2nd model we treat mice with a chemical that causes them to lose myelin, and we then test if our drugs can increase myelin recovery.

    We also carry out genetic studies which are looking at "SNPs", single nucleotide polymorphisms that can increase the risk of getting MS. We obtain DNA samples from large cohorts of MS patients and controls from around the world, carry out PCR assays to test for these SNPs, then use bioinformatics approaches to see how the SNPs associate with race, gender, age, and other variables.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 8

    Qualifications of a Student:
    Students should have some general knowledge of biology or neuroscience; or are planning to take a course in one of those. They should have basic knowledge of using a statistics program such as Excel or Prism. Prior experience working in a lab would be good, but is not a requirement.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    Many of the experiments that we run are set up one day, and the results are obtained a day later. It is therefore best if the person can work 2 days in a row.
    The student will be taught some basic lab methods (pipetting, using a balance, making serial dilutions); using a plate reader. Depending on the person's abilities, they will then be shown how to do basic cell culture, sterile technique, plating cells into dishes, and the adding test drugs to be measured the next day. Alternatively, the person may be taught how to carry out qPCR studies, including isolation of mRNA, conversion to cDNA, setting up the qPCR, and collection and analysis of the data. Another option is to assist with immunochemistry studies, which includes preparing tissues (usually brains) for mounting onto slides, incubating with primary and secondary antibodies, then viewing the slides using a fluorescent microscope, taking images, and quantifying the resulting staining. The student will be shown how to set up a full experiment, and then will design subsequent experiments on their own.

    We also expect the student to assist with general lab maintenance and chores, such as keeping track and organizing reagents and cell culture materials, checking incubators for CO2 levels, keeping an eye on the liquid N2 levels.

    NOTE: This researcher is currently not accepting applications for the Undergraduate Research Experience program.

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