EMU Students Receive Prestigious NCHC Award

Ravel and HindEMU Neuroscience Undergraduate Presidential Scholars, Ravel Ray and Hind Al Khashali, in Hedeel Evans’ research laboratory have been awarded the highly competitive and prestigious National Collegiate Honors Council’s (NCHC) 2023 Portz Interdisciplinary Fellowship ($5,000) for their NIH-supported collaborative research project entitled: Effects of Nicotine on the Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and Amyloid Beta (Aβ) in Cell Lines Used as Models for Alzheimer’s Disease and Lung Cancer.  

Cancer and Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been recently found to share several key pathophysiological features. Recent reports have shown that patients with AD, considered to be the most common type of dementia, might have a reduced cancer risk and some protection against tumor development.  Conversely, relative to patients without a history of cancer, patients who had a cancer diagnosis exhibited a slower cognitive decline and were less likely to develop AD.  Understanding the intersection of the mechanisms underlying these diseases is currently minimal and represents a lack in our knowledge.  Using a highly interdisciplinary approach that combines biochemical methods, biology, computational biology, bioinformatics, chemistry, computer science, and statistics, we will fill gaps in our understanding and knowledge of pathways, mechanisms, signaling cascades, and molecular links in common between AD and lung cancer.  Results from this proposal will serve as a crucial step toward future research directions in the field and the identification of new preventive and therapeutic approaches for neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.  

Only one proposal per year from each member institution is permitted. Each year, the NCHC awards six Portz Fellowships to individual students or teams of two students in a competition for the most creative and innovative research endeavors that cross interdisciplinary boundaries.  Ravel and Hind were selected as 2023 Portz Fellows from a pool of highly competitive honors students from across the country. The selection committee commented on their thoughtful and relevant purpose, clear research methods, and interdisciplinary approach and was impressed with their preparation, their engagement in honors, and their evident enthusiasm for their project. 

This research is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R15GM131222 to Hedeel Guy Evans.