Brackenridge Introductions

Hi everyone! My name is Chris and I am a rising senior at Pitt. I am a history major and I am taking pre med classes. My goal is to become a trauma surgeon eventually. This summer, I am working in the Vascular Medicine Institute on a project that focuses on a potentially new treatment for the disease Pulmonary Hypertension.

My research mentor is Dr. Ruya Liu MD PhD. Dr. Liu works in a lab that is headed by Dr. Mark Gladwin. The primary project that this lab focuses on is the regulation of the sGC gene in Pulmonary Hypertension. Pulmonary Hypertension occurs when the pulmonary arteries begin to harden and restrict blood flow. Pulmonary Hypertension itself is not fatal, however it can often lead to left heart failure as well as a host of other fatal conditions. The sGC gene is part of a process called the cGMP cycle that eventually results in the maintenance of softness in the arteries. Pulmonary Hypertension typically occurs because of a dysfunction in the cGMP cycle. Because of that, sGC is a good candidate to target for a potential treatment of this disease. 

My personal project focuses on finding transcriptional factors of sGC. Transcriptional factors are things that regulate a certain gene. As of right now, very few transcriptional factors are known for sGC. However, the discovery of more transcriptional factors could lead to a therapeutic that can treat pulmonary hypertension and perhaps avoid some deaths in the future. 

As for my personal life, I was recently accepted into a 4+1 program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. This program uses my senior year of college as the first year of my Masters program. That means that I will only have one more year after undergraduate to get my Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Infectious Diseases. I have recently become very interested in Infectious Diseases with the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I discovered my passion for epidemiology and decided that it also could not hurt my chances of getting into medical school as well. I believe that this program will definitely help me accomplish my future goals. The Brackenridge program teaches a lot of incredibly helpful aspects of research. Also the lab experience that I am gaining while working in the fellowship will be incredibly helpful to my application for medical school. I have already gained some very marketable skills and my mentor is an amazing teacher.

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