• ASSESSING STUDENTS' SPATIAL ABILITIES IN NEUROANATOMY EDUCATION

      Kumar, Aria (Arundhati); Appel, Joanna; Wyatt, Tasha; College of Science and Mathematics; Department of Neuroscience & Regenerative Medicine; Appel, Joanna; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Neuroanatomy requires students to acquire, assimilate, and apply knowledge of complex neuroanatomical structures. Three-dimensional (3D) physical models and computer-aided digital models are effective in promoting the development of neuroanatomical spatial representations. However, what remains unclear is exactly which tools benefit students the most. This study investigates whether there is a relationship between individuals' spatial abilities and their neuro-spatial knowledge, and to determine whether learning neuroanatomy is enhanced using one of three instructional tools. The spatial aptitude of undergraduate medical students enrolled in neuroanatomy was measured by tests previously validated as predictors of visual-spatial abilities, and a spatial aptitude profile was generated for each student. Students were given a pretest designed to assess critical spatial skills within the context of applied-neuroanatomy. Following the pretest, students attended a learning session where they interacted with one of three learning tools: a) 3D printed neuroanatomical models, b) 3D virtual neuroanatomical models, or c) hands-on deep-brain dissection. Effectiveness of each tool on student learning was evaluated by posttest. Preliminarily, all three instructional tools proved effective when assessing percentage change in pretest:posttest scores. Data is under analysis to determine if there exists an interplay between individual students' spatial abilities and the effectiveness of each learning tool.
    • Development of Defined Culture Conditions For Human Wharton's Jelly Stem Cells

      Shaikh, Arika; Eroglu, Ali; College of Science and Mathematics; Department of Neuroscience & Regenerative Medicine; Eroglu, Dr. Ali; Augusta University (1/4/2020)
      Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multi-potent and capable of differentiating into various cell lineages. While MSCs have commonly been isolated from bone marrow for treatment of numerous diseases, alternative sources including adipose tissue and Wharton’s Jelly (WJ), an extra-embryonic umbilical cord tissue rich from hyaluronic acid (HA), are under study for establishment of safer, less invasive procedures. Typically, WJ-MSCs are cultured in undefined media containing fetal bovine serum, of which use has been associated with different complications, including transmission of infectious agents and induction of immunologic reactions. To facilitate clinical applications, this project aims to develop chemically defined and safe culture conditions for human WJ-MSCs. The hypothesis is that undifferentiated growth of WJ-MSCs will be supported by an HA-based extracellular matrix and fortified DMEM/F12 supplemented with macromolecules, antioxidants, and growth factors. This hypothesis will be tested by comparing the growth kinetics and plasticity of WJ-MSCs cultured under conventional undefined and defined conditions. WJ-MSCs will be isolated via either the “enzymatic digestion” or “tissue explant” methods from human umbilical cords. They will then be phenotyped by evaluating the expression of relevant markers using a MSC phenotyping kit and placed into one of six different culture media groups for experimental testing.
    • Roles of Astrocyte-Derived Estrogen in the Brain

      Meyre, Ja; Brann, Darrell; Wang, Jing; Augusta University Honors Thesis Program; Department of Neuroscience & Regenerative Medicine; Department of Neurology; Brann, Darrell; Wang, Jing; Augusta University (1/28/2020)
      The steroid hormone, 17?-estradiol (E2) is an important hormone that regulates many functions in the body. Traditionally, E2 was believed to be produced primarily by the ovaries in females, but a number of studies have shown that brain cells such as neurons and astrocytes can also make significant quantities of E2. The study presented in this thesis examined the role of astrocyte-derived E2 in exerting neuroprotection in the CA1 region of the hippocampus, as well as its ability to regulate two specific pathways implicated in neuroprotection - the LIF and STAT3 pathways. Since the hippocampal CA1 region is known to be highly vulnerable to global cerebral ischemia (GCI), such as occurs after cardiac arrest, we used a mouse GCI model to examine the neuroprotective role of astrocyte-derived E2 in the hippocampal CA1 region. The results of the study indicate that mice that lack the enzyme aromatase in astrocytes and were unable to produce astrocyte-derived E2, have decreased reactive astrocyte activation after GCI, greater neuronal deficits after GCI in both genders, and they have significantly decreased LIF-STAT3 signaling in the hippocampus.