Undergraduate Research Program

Noor Bhatti

Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Lena Vayndorf, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Contact: nbhatti@uw.edu

Current Research project:¬†Alzheimer’s Protein Project

 

Noor Bhatti is a senior majoring in Biochemistry at UW. She is currently working on different projects under her mentor, Lena Vayndorf, as part of the Kaeberlein Lab in the UW Pathology Department. She works to identify and analyze aggregated proteins as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. This and other projects she works on hopes to find potential treatments for delaying the symptoms and increasing the lifespan of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. She eventually wants to pursue a medical degree and continue to further her interest in neurodegenerative diseases.

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I work on the organism C. elegans, which is a worm that you can see under a microscope. I manage different populations and strains of these worms, and help to extract and isolate proteins. We then analyze these proteins and check for the presence of soluble and insoluble protein concentrations in the Alzheimer’s model. In Alzheimer’s disease, the Beta-amyloid protein forms aggregates and thus causes neuron death in animals. We check for the difference of insoluble vs. soluble proteins in the worms, which we hope to discern the biochemical expression from which could potentially translate to treatments in human patients.

 

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research in winter quarter of 2021. I used the URL database online and contacted a few research scientists that had most recently posted an opening for a position. I actually interviewed with a different research scientist than the one I work under now, as he ended up sending my application to someone else in the lab. I interviewed with my current mentor, and ended up getting the job as an undergraduate research assistant. I wanted to get involved in research as I had heard that it was useful for helping visualize the experiments and topic I was learning in my biochemistry courses. In a biochemistry lab, these techniques directly translated to what I was learning in class, and served to be incredibly helpful when studying different metabolic processes and protein folding, for example. I also liked the fact that we were researching a neurodegenerative disease, as I would like to apply what I have learned to my patients in the future. I have a great interest in medicine, and would like to be as knowledgeable about such prevalent diseases in our society.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would say that the biggest thing that overwhelmed me in terms of research was the fact that I kept feeling like I was getting rejected. I applied to a ton of different positions, and I ended up getting one that I didn’t originally apply for. I’m actually much happier now than I think I would be in any other position, as my mentor is very supportive, and I am frequently learning new techniques. I would say that resilience is key when attempting to find research, and sometimes you may end up working in a lab that you didn’t originally plan for. Research is incredibly dynamic, and multiple fields overlap in the sense that you will feel comfortable studying various topics no matter where you end up.