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Patrick Ihejirika

Patrick Ihejirika

Patrick Ihejirika, a senior psychology major and neuroscience minor at CUNY Brooklyn College, studied potential antidepressant treatments for cancers through understanding the genetic association between psychiatric disorders and cancer proliferation

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Cancer are some of the major ailments ravaging across many major modern societies. While there is ample research aimed at treating either MDD or Cancer, there is substantially less research aimed at treating both MDD and Cancer concurrently. This summer at the Broad was an experience completely unlike anything I could’ve imagined. Aside from being given the opportunity to interact with and receive mentorship directly from experts at the Broad which by itself is far beyond what I expected, I was also given the opportunity to forge potentially life-long friendships with the next generation of researchers, scientists, doctors and leaders while enhancing my skills in both technical areas such as data analysis, management and in the areas of leadership, teamwork and perseverance. I am beyond excited to employ the skills acquired at the BSRP to be an even better scientist and leader.This project aims to provide further insight in this vacancy of knowledge by displaying that there is evidence for antidepressant treatment, specifically Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) effectively decreasing cancer proliferation through targeting specific genes associated with both SSRIs, depression and cancer proliferation. This was accomplished by first identifying the genes targeted a number of SSRIs and which display an inverse association between expression in MDD and cancer proliferation, thus that the up-regulation of said gene’s expression in MDD is associated with cancer cell growth and down-regulation of the gene’s expression in MDD being associated with cancer cell death. The gene targeted by the SSRIs, depression and cancer proliferation was the SLC6A4 gene. Upon analysis of the SLC6A4 gene dependency on cell death and SSRI treatments (Fluvoxamine, Zimelidine & Paroxetine) on cell death, there was sufficient enough evidence towards the claims that the increased presence of the SSRI treatments; Fluvoxamine, Zimelidine & Paroxetine led to the death of the cancer-cell lines through knocking out the SLC614 gene. Further research on the impact of Fluvoxamine, Zimelidine & Paroxetine treatment on epithelial cells may be required to provide further evidence to the claim of SSRIs having the ability to treat cancers and MDD.


Project: Identifying potential SSRI treatments to cancer proliferation

Mentor: Linnea Herzog, Stanley Lab