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McNair Scholar 2017Nicole A. Lynn

Nicole A. Lynn is a MBRS-RISE scholar from Cal Poly, Pomona, and is pursuing a B.S. in biotechnology. Her research experience focused on using C. elegans to profile the gene Itx-1 in mutations related to sperm activation as this can lead to neurodegenerative disease. She is interested in pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology.

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My Dream is to obtain a PhD in Medical Pharmacology so that I can become a principal investigator in a biomedical research lab. I am interested in how neuroscience can play a role in reproductive diseases and hope to discover a link between these fields.

Research project

The Effect of Saturated Fatty Acid on Immune Metabolism in Microglia

Abstract: Obesity and associated comorbidities are known risk factors for cognitive impairment and development of Alzheimer’s disease. The dietary metabolite palmitic acid (PA) can activate microglia via toll like receptor- 4 (TLR-4) dependent pathways promoting inflammation. We have previously shown this is in part due to the interaction of the lipid binding protein FABP4 with PA and altered mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) function. We hypothesized that PA alters microglial metabolism to directly trigger brain immune responses and impair cognition. The short-term goal for this project was to characterize microglial metabolic changes that promote neuroinflammation. To test this, we measured intracellular metabolic activity (glycolytic rate, ATP turnover, proton leak and respiration) in microglia challenged with PA +/- FABP4 inhibitor. Our data demonstrates that PA reduced rates of intracellular metabolic activity and oxygen consumption, while increasing glycolysis. Diet-induced neuroinflammation represents an unexplored link between metabolic adaption within the context of cognitive decline. Download poster. [PDF]

Faculty profile

Dr. Tammy A. Butterick is a Health Science Researcher at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Department of Food Science and Nutrition. She has a long-standing record of mentoring and working with the UMN Trio-McNair program. She received her B.S. and M.S degrees in medical microbiology from California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), Pomona, and her doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota from the Department of Pharmacology. Dr. Butterick’s research focuses on the role of the neuroinflammation and cognitive decline.