Undergraduate Academic Affairs

June 7, 2023

Revolutionizing Alzheimer’s care: Undergraduate research in public health

Ian Teodoro, Kirsten Atik and Danielle Marie Holland

In this video, undergraduate researcher Varuna Ravi, ’23, shares what motivated her to pursue research focusing on Alzheimer’s disease. Ravi’s firsthand experience of the devastating impact Alzheimer’s has on millions of individuals and their families drove her to reimagine how we perceive, comprehend and treat age-associated cognitive decline.

As an undergraduate researcher, she received scholarship support from both the Levinson Emerging Scholars Program and the Mary Gates Endowment for Students. She attributes the scholarships’ funding to her growth as a researcher. The funding enabled her to spend additional time in the lab without worrying about expenses and provided valuable networking experiences within and outside the UW Undergraduate Research Program.

“I was invited to meet with the current under secretary of education, Jame Kvall, and discuss the importance of funding for undergraduate research and the impact of research,” said Ravi. “This funding has opened doors for me and for many students like me.”

Ravi also acknowledges the role her mentors played, supporting her scientific independence and helping her to grow as a scientist. Her mentors helped her apply for scholarships, plan her individual project and to understand that science is all about making mistakes. “Their support was instrumental in my pursuit of research and my future endeavors,” Ravi shared, “I am grateful to both of them.”

Ravi worked at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, researching mechanistic hypotheses for how senolytic drugs work to mitigate Alzheimer’s.

Ravi earned her bachelor’s degree in public health-global health from the University of Washington in 2023. As a student in the School of Public Health, Ravi’s work has centered on decolonizing academia and substance misuse. She plans to expand her lab experience within clinical research for substance misuse and senolytics.