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2018 ICTS TL-1 Award Announcements


The ICTS is pleased to announce the awardees of the 2018 TL-1 Scholar Awards.

This ICTS award is intended to support training in clinical research and translational science for pre- and postdoctoral trainees in medicine, public health, nursing, pharmaceutical sciences, biomedical and social sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and informatics. For more information about the ICTS program and other funded scholars visit the ICTS Website.


Isabella Sanchez
Pre-doctoral Student: Department in Neurology & Behavior
Mentor Dr: Leslie Thompson

Proposed Research:
Exosomes and miRNAs in Huntington's disease patient-derived iPSC-choroid plexus epithelial

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the huntingtin gene. Chronic expression of mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) causes cellular dysfunction, including early and reproducible transcriptomic dysregulation of mRNAs and miRNAs. The development of disease-modifying therapies has been challenged by a lack of biomarkers to track disease progression. Recently, it has been elucidated that expression levels of certain miRNAs are altered under different disease states. This proposal is focused on identifying potential miRNA biomarkers for HD. Potential modes for the selective incorporation of miRNAs into exosomes have been proposed. One of them is through a heterogenous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) dependent pathway, in which hnRNPA2B1 recognizes a GGAG motif at the 3’ end of miRNA sequences. We hypothesize that altered hnRNPA2B1 activity contributes to an altered exosomal miRNA profile in HD patients. Our preliminary data show decreased hnRNPA2B1 protein levels in HD patient-derived iPSC-neurons and exosomes isolated from post-mortem CSF, and exosomal miRNA dysregulation in HD CSF exosomes isolated from living patients. We propose to define exosome release and RNP dysregulation using differentiated HD iPSCs and CSF biopsy assays to elucidate potential miRNA-based biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets.

Veronica Newhart, PhD
Post-doctoral Student: Department in Education
Mentor Dr: Jaquiline Eccles

Proposed Research:
Robots are here to help: How interactions viatelepresence and human service robots allow home- and hospital- bound populations to maintainsocial connections and have experiences that contribute to improved health outcomes

Dr. Newhart’s proposed research will explore the use of telepresence and human service robots to increase human connections and provide robotic assistance for home- and hospital- bound populations for improved health outcomes. There are three different settings for this study: (i) schools, (ii) homes, and (iii) hospitals. Two different models of robots will be used in this study: the Double Robot and the Toyota Human Service Robot (HSR). My research study consists of two parts. The first part of this study will occur in the school setting. In this setting, both models of robots will be deployed to explore homebound pediatric patients’ use of the HSR and Double robots to attend traditional schools. Both models of robots have full telepresence capabilities. This part of the study will evaluate the effects that the resultant virtual inclusion may have on participant well-being and health outcomes. The second part of this study will take place in homes and hospitals. For this part of the study, only the HSR will be deployed as these populations require telepresence capabilities plus additional robotic assistance beyond what the Double offers. The HSRs will be deployed in home settings where elderly or adult participants need physical assistance during recovery from surgeries or illness. The HSR will also be deployed in hospital rooms to assist hospitalized participants. In both settings, family and visitors will utilize the telepresence capabilities for social visits and possibly provide care via the robot. Data collection from this part of the study will capture both patient and health care team experiences with the robots.