Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
Cambridge, MA

Matt Tegtmeyer and Hilena Gebre
Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research

“Throughout my lifetime there have been incredible strides made in science, opening the door for more large questions needing to be answered, which ultimately motivated me to join the science community towards the push for a greater understanding of our world.” It was this genuine interest in scientific research that led Eman to work this summer alongside her partner Maria studying schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are two prevalent psychiatric disorders that are not well understood. Over recent years, scientists have started to use a special type of cell, called induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC), to study these disorders. iPSCs are somatic-derived cells that are turned into a pluripotent state in which they can differentiate into any cell in our body. This allows scientists to study the differentiation of patient-derived cells to better understand the development of disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. To gain a better understanding of the different biological processes that might be affected in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Eman's lab studied the changes in gene expression that occur in patient derived neurons and astrocytes as a result of treatment with common medication used to treat the disorders. Their findings suggested there were significant changes in the expression of genes involved in the lipid synthesis. This summer, Eman and her partner Maria were involved in validating the results from this past study. She differentiated iPSCs into astrocytes, administered different drug treatments and performed qPCR and Western Blot analysis to confirm changes at the transcript and protein level as a response to treatment. Eman’s work revealed 10 out of the 11 tested lipid synthesis genes were affected by the different treatments. Her findings this summer will help researchers understand how different psychiatric disorders develop. Additionally, the work could help with the development of different treatments that target cellular pathways altered in these disorders to better the lives of those affected by them. When asked about her favorite part about being a Broadie, Eman highlighted the collaborative nature of the institute. “People with diverse skill sets, specialties, and perspectives bounce ideas to meet a common goal.” She also notes the environment that exists at the Broad. “I also greatly enjoy the way the building reflects an academic as well as corporate environment, further pushing the narrative of being in a constant state of learning.”