Yuanyu Chang and Sophie Cook Awarded 2021 Presidential Fellowships

Two University of Virginia Chemistry graduate students have just been awarded 2021 Presidential Fellowships for Collaborative Neuroscience. This fellowship program is a collaboration between the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, the UVA Brain Institute, and the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

Yuanyu Chang is a 5th year graduate student working in the laboratory of Jill Venton. The goal of his proposal is to combine electrochemical techniques and imaging techniques to simultaneously probe rapid adenosine neuromodulation in the mouse brain. The group will use fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) and genetically-encoded sensors to simultaneously measure different neurotransmitters (such as adenosine and dopamine) in real time. Combining electrochemical techniques and fluorescence measurement provides good sensitivity, selectivity and spatial resolution. Multiplex analytical tools will also provide more advantages for multiple neurotransmitter interactions in real time.

Sophie Cook is a 4th year graduate student working in the laboratory of Rebecca Pompano. Her work is on neurodegenerative diseases that are the leading cause of disability and morbidity. Often, neuronal damage is associated with chronic immune cell activation and infiltration into the brain parenchyma. The mechanisms of this infiltration are poorly understood and difficult to dissect in standard mouse models. To address this problem, the group proposes the first experimentally-accessible ex vivo model of brain-immune communication. Building on the group’s prior work culturing multiple tissue slices in a microfluidic chip, they will integrate brain and lymph node (LN) slices separated by a model blood-brain barrier (BBB). As a proof-of-principle, the device will be used to investigate immune infiltration into the central nervous system (CNS) during early neuroinflammation.