Positron Emission Tomography (PET) has been used for the noninvasive imaging of structural, functional and activity dependent aspects of brain function. The radiotracer commonly used in PET to measure brain activity reports metabolism of both neurons and glia. We would like to identify chemical probes that more directly measure neuronal activation. We investigated the use of Immediate Early Genes as markers of neuronal activation in PET and sought to identify chemical probes that can bind to the IEG protein Egr1. To identify small molecules we screened small molecule microarrays (SMMs). SMMs allow for the simultaneous measurement of the interaction of thousands of small molecules with a particular protein. This approach may lead to the identification of chemical probes that will reveal novel insight into the function and development of the brain and the pathology of psychiatric disease.
PROJECT: Identification of small molecules that report developmental or functional changes in the brain
Mentor: John Madison, Psychiatric Disease Program
"After spending my summer at the Broad Institute I have grown as a scientist but more importantly as a person. The access to resources, whether it be an expert in the field or cutting-edge technology, is unparalleled. The atmosphere at the Broad is stimulating and everyone is incredibly passionate about research. It has motivated and inspired me to go out and confront big problems."