Project/blog link:Sleep Deprivation and Schizophrenia BASIS Advisor: Ms. Lydia Reznik Internship location: UofA, College of Medicine Onsite Mentor: Ms. Janet Campbell; Mr. Derek Reznik, Laboratory Manager; Undergraduate Research Assistant
Schizophrenia is a rare but serious mental illness that is caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Dr. Amelia Gallitano, MD, PhD at The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix is looking at both of these factors to study the condition. Mice, modified to have a specific gene turned off, are being used to model schizophrenia. This gene, EGR3, is called an immediate early gene, which are a group of genes that are turned on in response to environmental changes, and can cause changes in behavior. Past experiments by the Gallitano lab show that mice with this gene turned off react poorly to novel situations. The Gallitano lab has also performed experiments where these mice and normal mice were sleep-deprived in order to stress them, after which their brains were sliced and stained to observe certain changes to EGR3 and a gene involved in serotonin receptor production. It is hoped that using animal models, such as these genetically altered mice, to better understand both the genetic and environmental components of the disease will allow for better treatment for humans suffering from schizophrenia in the future.