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Saad Rahman

Major:Public Health – Global Health
Mentor:Kimberly Alonge, Medicinal Chemistry in the School of Pharmacy

Current research project: Perineuronal net reorganization, Alzheimers disease, Neuropsychiatric disorders

Saad Rahman is a current senior at the University of Washington. He is interested in research pertaining towards Neuroscience and behavioral patterns that affect neurodegenerative diseases. He has worked as a research assistant at the Cognition and Cortical Dynamics Laboratory aiding a project that analyzes how different types of information compete to grab the attention of the learner, and how differences in brain functioning and cognitive capabilities relate to what and how well people learn. Now I am delving into research surrounding perineuronal net reorganization and their role in Alzheimers disease at the Alonge Lab. After graduating I hope to attain my dream of becoming a Neurologist and apply the research and leadership skills gained here at my time at the University of Washington towards my career as a physician.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Perineuronal nets contain extracellular matrix surfaces that assemble around neurons involved in memory and cognition. Considering the negative charges that stem from sulfate modifications attached to CS-GAGs, the matrices play a significant role in mediating signaling interactions. Loss of PNN matrices has been reported for many neurocognitive and neurodegenerative diseases indicating PNN’s role in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders. I will highlight PNN changes observed in human postmortem brain tissue associated with Alzheimer’s disease and the corresponding changes in rodent models of AD neuropathology.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved with undergraduate research during my junior year after regulations with COVID-19 were being lifted. I knew my interests were set on my passion towards the brain so I began to broaden my approach by researching multiple departments and their research faculty ranging from psychology to neuroscience. After fine tuning my interests towards nearly 50 labs I curated individual emails to each professor explaining not only my interest in their lab but how it directly aligned with my future goals. Eventually, the CCDL got in contact with me after learning that I wanted to garner not only research skills on the neurobiological basis of individual differences in second language acquisition but garner the communication skills necessary in talking with study participants as a future doctor. Later, the Alonge Lab got in contact with me after learning I wanted to expand my skillset towards more hands-on technical analysis related to perineuronal net reorganization, Chondroitin and heparan sulfate glycosaminoglyan sulfation patterning, Glycan sequencing technology, Obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and neuropsychiatric disorders.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
No matter what you plan to do in the future and whether you think it is too late or not, anytime and any reason is good enough to get yourself involved with undergraduate research. For myself I became directly involved my Junior year but I have no regrets in how I started my experience. In short, it is never too late to get yourself involved and you do not need to know what your true passion is right off the tee. Making sure you follow your passion in the moment will give yourself a more natural progression and interest in the research that you will participate in and will then lead to more avenues of interest that will eventually lead you to your goals!