Medical and Health Sciences


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Wednesday, April 20th
8:15 AM

“Cancer as a differentiation disease: Rethinking current treatment strategies”

Tong-Chuan (T.-C.) He MD, PhD, University of Chicago

8:15 AM - 9:45 AM

A list of Dr. He's publications and research summary can be found at:

... Read More

Dr. He has a broad range of research interests in biomedical science including:

  1. to elucidate the roles of major cell signaling pathways in regulating lineage commitment and terminal differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs);
  2. to unravel the molecular and genetic links between MSC differentiation and bone tumorigenesis;
  3. to uncover the essential roles of small regulatory RNAs (esp. noncoding RNAs) in the development of cancer drug resistance;
  4. to develop novel and efficacious gene and/or cell-based strategies for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering; and
  5. to develop innovative and enabling technologies for basic and translational research.
8:50 AM

Discovery and Synthesis of Novel Inflammation Reducing Drug for Atopic Dermatitis

Natali Chung '22, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

8:50 AM - 9:05 AM

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a non-contagious chronic inflammatory skin disease. AD is associated with allergies such as those that pertain to food or dust, allergic asthma, and anaphylaxis. These reactions start a complex interaction of various pathways involving skin barrier function and immune deviation, developing an itchy inflammation on the contacted skin. Topical treatments such as topical steroids and PDE4 ... Read More

Impact of Common Dietary Supplements on Urine Glucose Levels

Akash Basavaraju, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

8:50 AM - 9:05 AM

The rise of diabetes mellitus, particularly among younger people, has been a cause of public health concern recently. Many scientific studies conducted throughout the pandemic showed diabetes as being a cause for severe complications related to COVID. Current treatment for diabetes primarily consists of lifestyle changes and/or medications. Natural remedies for diabetes have been gaining more traction lately, given the ... Read More

In vitro analysis of an ultraporous synthetic scaffold's ability to promote mesenchymal stem cell survival and chondrogenesis

Shreya Mahesh, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Apurva Reddy, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

8:50 AM - 9:05 AM

Articular cartilage is a vital connective tissue in the musculoskeletal system. Because articular cartilage is avascular in nature, effective repair of cartilaginous defects remains a challenge. Dimension Inx (Chicago, IL), recently developed a novel ultraporous scaffold: Fluffy polylactide co-glycolide (FPLG). It is capable of being 3D printed to precisely adhere to irregular contours present in cartilaginous surfaces. This study evaluated ... Read More

The Impact of CPSF6 on the Innate Immune Response to HIV Infection

Kenith Taukolo, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

8:50 AM - 9:05 AM

With no current vaccine for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), it is crucial to study what factors influence how HIV infects host cells to develop new strategies and therapies to combat this pandemic. Cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor 6 (CPSF6) is an HIV host factor known to influence HIV infectivity and trafficking early in the infection. We hypothesize that the overexpression ... Read More

9:10 AM

Assessing the Quality of LGBTQ+ Identity Affirming Care: Developing Recommendations for Identity-Focused Healthcare

Venus Obazuaye, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

9:10 AM - 9:25 AM

Recently, the practice of patient-centered health care has emerged as one possible strategy to reduce health disparities experienced by marginalized communities. Despite this trend, limited research has been conducted to measure the impact of patient-centered health care, or identity and gender-affirming care, on members of the LGBTQ+ community and potential improvements.

This study first analyzed differences in participants’ responses to ... Read More

Design and Synthesis of COVID-19 Antivirals Using Computer Modeling

Isabella Chen '22, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Lethzeylee Gutierrez, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

9:10 AM - 9:25 AM

The development of effective antiviral drugs for COVID-19 is ongoing. COVID Moonshot is an initiative that contributes to this goal. We aim to develop easily manufacturable antiviral drugs that can inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 main protease, Mpro. Using fragment-based drug discovery, which identifies low-molecular-weight ligands that bind to biologically important macromolecules, leads for the biological target were identified. We designed new ... Read More

Synthesizing and Cost Evaluating Tiopronin

Ayati Lala, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Miles Massey, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

9:10 AM - 9:25 AM

Tiopronin is a prescription thiol drug used as medication to treat severe homozygous cystinuria. Although not an immediate threat it contains the risk of the formation of kidney stones. Tiopronin is used as a second-line therapy to control the rate of cysteine precipitation and excretion. The price of tiopronin has recently exploded from $1.50 to $30 per pill, a 1,900% ... Read More

9:30 AM

Identification of the biomarker IL-23 in Glioblastoma multiforme cell line T98G using ELISA

Katelyn Ingles, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

The prognosis for patients with Glioblastoma multiforme is about 6% within 5 years of diagnosis. However, if caught earlier, the astrocytes that form glioblastoma can be detected in order to treat and prevent the spread of the cancer. This makes the use of biomarkers useful for diagnosis and tracking the progression of Glioblastoma multiforme. ELISA tests were done to test ... Read More

Synthesis of 2-aminothiazole derivatives as potential treatments of Mycetoma

Samuel Go, Illinois Math and Science Academy
Sumedha Surubhotla, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Fungal mycetoma is a neglected tropical disease that destroys skin, subcutaneous, and bone tissues in the limbs, causing deformity and physical disability. The disease spreads after contamination of wounds, typically on the feet or legs of a patient. There are over 70 identified fungal species that can cause fungal mycetoma after infecting humans. The disease is most prevalent in arid, ... Read More

The Effect of Subcutaneous Electrical Stimulation on Hypertonia in Chronic Hemiparetic Stroke

Shreya Chakraborty '23, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Yina Wang '23, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

After brain injury, increased levels of monoamines in the central nervous system may result in hypertonia, or increased muscle tone on the affected side. The purpose of this project is to determine how low levels of cutaneous electrical stimulation affect hypertonia in patients with chronic hemiparetic stroke.

Electromyography (EMG) data was collected from the biceps, lateral triceps, and brachioradialis muscles ... Read More

The Search for New Antibiotics: Deriving Antimicrobials From Soil

Joyce Li, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Aidan Maddox, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Rachel Selvaraj, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

The prevalence of antibiotic-resistant infectious diseases has been on the rise, staging a major threat to the key role antibiotics play a key role in disease management. This global public health problem has reignited many discussions of finding new antibiotic resistance genes, revealing antimicrobial impacts and potential of soil bacteria in fighting these pathogens. Antibiotic residues in soil vary depending ... Read More

10:05 AM

Characterization of the Wnt/β-Catenin Pathway in iPSC Induced Human Astrocytes

Amogh Shetty, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:05 AM - 10:20 AM

Astrocytes are one of the most abundant cell types in the central nervous system (CNS), playing an important role in regulating the environment by participating in glutamate uptake, immunoinflammatory response of the CNS, and supporting the blood brain barrier (BBB). Sourcing a consistent supply of primary astrocytes for in vitro experiments is vital to understanding their role in CNS health ... Read More

Computer-Aided Drug Design and Synthesis of Atazanavir Derivatives for HIV

Samantha Gong, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:05 AM - 10:20 AM

There is no drug on the market that successfully “cures” HIV, which leaves millions of people in an endless cycle of symptom suppressing drugs. The goal of this research project was to design and synthesize a better and more efficient medication starting from an already existing drug on the market: atazanavir. Using a program called SeeSAR to modify the structure ... Read More

Investigating the effectiveness of Metarrestin as a perinucleolar compartment inhibitor to suppress metastasis

Nandana Varma, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:05 AM - 10:20 AM

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and the second leading cause of death in the United States, and the primary cause of mortality is metastasis to other organs. The perinucleolar compartment (PNC) is a sub-nucleolar structure that has been associated with metastasis and the progression of cancer, resulting in poor patient outcomes. To combat metastatic cancer, look towards ... Read More

NSD Histone Methyltransferases drive Cell Proliferation in HPV-negative Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC)

Ariela Asllani, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:05 AM - 10:20 AM

Histone modifications are essential in regulating chromatin function and structure. Abnormal histone methylation is often detected during tumor development and progression. NSD1, NSD2, and NSD3 are key histone methyltransferases (HMTs) that catalyze lysine 36 dimethylation (K36me2) at histone H3. Inactivating NSD1 mutations are frequent in head neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) commonly occur in HPV-negative oropharyngeal (OP) carcinoma and laryngeal ... Read More

Remedies for Glioblastoma Multiforme

Abhiram Pasupula, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:05 AM - 10:20 AM

Natural Remedies for Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Glioblastoma multiforme, commonly known as GBM, is a form of the brain with uncontrollable cell growth. For the past few decades, there have been many attempts to find a working or reliable cure to reduce the effects of this tumor, but nothing has been successful. As a result, many of those affected turn to ... Read More

Using Protein Ligands for Design and Synthesis of a COVID-19 Treatment

Cameron Magana, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Lucienne Petit, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:05 AM - 10:20 AM

For several years, the novel virus known as SARS-CoV-2 has been causing infections throughout the world, resulting in many seriously ill patients, and even numerous deaths. A consortium called COVID Moonshot was created in response to the virus, and it aims to crowdsource designed molecules from across the world to test for potential antivirals. Through the use of programs such ... Read More

10:25 AM

A Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) to Detect Single-nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and Identify Risk Loci for Parkinson Disease

Dhruv Patel, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Pranav Patel, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:25 AM - 10:40 AM

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a severe neurodegenerative disease, resulting from complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors. To analyze the genetic foundations of the disease, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) can be employed to filter genetic markers, identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and associate genetic variants. Identification of SNPs significantly contributes to the accuracy of polygenic risk scores (PRS; risk score ... Read More

Analyzing the Differential Expression of OPTN during Herpes Simplex Virus-2 Infection

Mathew Illimoottil, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:25 AM - 10:40 AM

Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2) is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted infections in the world today, infecting more than 500 million people worldwide. In a recent article, we showed that OPTN, a gene that codes for the Optineurin protein, selectively marks essential HSV proteins for degradation in an autophagy-dependent manner and that an essential chemokine, CCL5, positively ... Read More

Key Elemental Differences causing Cisplatin Induced Hearing Loss

Rujuta Durwas, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Pranit Guntupalli, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Faisal Patel, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:25 AM - 10:40 AM

Cisplatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug used to treat various types of cancers, including sarcomas, some carcinomas (i.e. small cell lung cancer, and ovarian cancer), lymphomas and germ cell tumors (DrugBank, 2021). Cisplatin can cause hearing loss in the cochlea, which is a result of some of the cancer therapies that happen in hospitals. In this study three experimental groups ... Read More

The cost variations of tiopronin and the synthesis behind it

Maya Holland, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Dorrie Peters, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:25 AM - 10:40 AM

Cystinuria is a medical condition in which stones that are composed of an amino acid called Cysteine are found strictly in the bladder, kidney, and ureter. Said condition is controlled through a medication documented as tiopronin; however after Thiola, the most common anaccessible brand, raised prices by 2900%, it became virtually impossible to afford. This study works through the synthesis ... Read More

10:45 AM

Analyses of Expression Patterns of Genes Associated with Inherited Retinal Degeneration in Different Cell Types of the Human Retina

Himani Kamineni, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Inherited retinal dystrophies (IRDs) are familial or inherited forms of retinal degeneration that are characterized by the progressive loss of photoreceptor cells, leading to the eventual loss of vision. Genetic studies have identified more than 300 genes that are altered in different forms of IRDs. Analyses of human retinal single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNAseq) data from published studies were performed to examine ... Read More

Effectiveness of Biofeedback and Postural Training on Spinal Positions

Jasmine Liu, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Body posture involves multiple aspects of the body with standing, sitting, and walking being major factors contributing to an individual’s posture. Bent or slouched posture often leads to various negative health issues such as back pain, joint degeneration, and spinal dysfunction. Within the medical field, surgeons often spend hours in awkward positions while operating which leads to long-term poor spinal ... Read More

Fragment-based drug discovery and synthesis of SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics

Hannah Johnson, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual drug development timeline has been substantially condensed. This shortened timeline aims to facilitate the discovery of a safe and effective therapy as soon as possible, as the number of global COVID cases rise. Moreover, the COVID Moonshot open-sourced initiative facilitates the accelerated development of a COVID antiviral. After the published fragment screening on the ... Read More

Promoting Diversity in Pharmacogenetics by Analyzing Genetic Variation Data with Respect to Metabolite Formation from African American-donor-derived Hepatocytes

Sabrina Zhang, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Pharmacogenomics is being increasingly used to guide certain clinical prescription decisions and will feed into future precision medicine applications. However, current pharmacogenetics (PGx) studies (and thus, the clinical guidelines coming out of PGx studies) are done predominantly using subjects of European descent and thus not representative of the human population. CYP function can be very different between ethnicities, and thus ... Read More

The Role of the Blood-Brain Barrier in Stopping the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 to the Brain and Brain Tumors

Sajal Shukla, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

The initial site for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is the upper respiratory system. In many patients, however, the virus finds a way to reach the lungs, which can result in serious infection. Coronavirus can also spread to various parts of the body causing multiorgan failure. Although over 80% of patients with severe COVID-19 demonstrate neurological symptoms, ... Read More

11:55 AM

A Bayesian hierarchical model of longitudinal dynamics

Siddharth Tiwari, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

11:55 AM - 12:20 PM

Pain is the most ubiquitous and economically burdensome condition in the world. For this reason, pain relief—a decrease in pain over time—is the primary outcome for clinical trials across many fields, ranging from pharmaceuticals to physiotherapy. Often measured at few, discrete time points (e.g., pre- and post-intervention), measures and statistical models of pain relief are poor. The low temporal resolution ... Read More

An Evaluation of Variant Annotation Tools – Alamut Batch, ENSEMBL Variant Effect Predictor (VEP), and ANNOVAR - for Clinical Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) based Genetic Testing

Sachleen Tuteja, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

11:55 AM - 12:20 PM

Dramatically expanding our ability for clinical genetic testing for inherited conditions and complex diseases such as cancer, next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies are allowing for rapid interrogation of thousands of genes and identification of millions of variants. Variant annotation, the process of assigning functional information to DNA variants based on the standardized Human Genome Variation Society (HGVS) nomenclature, is a ... Read More

Effect of PMN Presence on Cancer Vascularization in Colorectal Tumors of Mice

Edward Ning, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

11:55 AM - 12:20 PM

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), where deregulated immune responses promote exacerbated inflammation and formation of ulcers in the large intestine. IBD is also one of the high-risk factors for the development of colorectal cancer (CRC). Robust neutrophil infiltration is an important feature of both UC and CRC and in both cases, disease severity ... Read More

Exploring Retinal Projection to the Medial Amygdala: Laterality, Sex, and Cell Types

Shikhar Gupta '22, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Kavin Suhirtharen '22, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

11:55 AM - 12:20 PM

In the mouse brain, there are 59 retinorecipient regions, including the medial amygdala (MeA). The MeA is a sensory integrating region where social information is processed, especially those related to sexual selection, aggression, and pup retrieval. The neurons that link visual input to the brain are known as retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). There are ~47 mouse RGC subtypes, each with ... Read More