Our BioE undergraduate students, Ellie Mountz and Jinghang Li, received a summer internship for their joint research project to investigate neural differentiation in preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease. We are very proud of them as they develop a research program that can be pursued remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations, Ellie and Li!

“Pitt Bioengineering students Jinghang Li and Elizabeth Mountz have been accepted into the Swanson Undergraduate Research Internship (SURI) program for the summer of 2020 and are excited to fulfill the internship with the Geriatric Psychiatry Neuroimaging (GPN) Lab. SURI offers the chance for students to collaborate with Pitt professors on research projects best aligned with the student’s intended major and interests. As Bioengineering students, Li and Elizabeth will have the opportunity to submit their abstracts for the 2020 Biomedical Engineering Society conference held in October. At the GPN Lab, Li and Elizabeth will be working with mentors Akiko Mizuno, Helmet Karim, and Dr. Howard Aizenstein on a project analyzing dedifferentiation in normal aging as a biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease. The team will be using PET and fMRI data from an archival study to develop methods for estimating markers of neural dedifferentiation. Li and Elizabeth will be writing MATLAB scripts to calculate laterality of neuronal resource recruitment between hemispheres as well as to produce Gaussian models of the spread of activation for measuring the full-width at half-maximum over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, the students hope to investigate factors affecting those markers. Li and Elizabeth will be conducting statistical analysis in R to estimate the association between markers of dedifferentiation and age, education, depressive symptoms, amyloid, and post-scan task accuracy while adjusting for race and sex. Results of the study will contribute toward a growing understanding of the biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease and will hopefully lead to earlier diagnosis and disease intervention.”

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