Finishing the CURF & A Sneak Peak into My Work!

Me after finishing my paper!!

My Process:

Conducting research can definitely be challenging and intimidating at times! I found that the most difficult part for me was knowing where to begin. Doing an independent research assignment for the first is daunting and figuring out where to start is challenging. In times of feeling overwhelmed and challenged, I reached out to my mentor and we had a meeting before I began my research. Dr. Grace helped me compile some research articles relevant to personalized medicine, and that gave me a place to begin. I came up with a plan to start with readings. I knew going into this research assignment that I had a lot of learning to do, and I felt that I would learn the best if I did my background research first, and held off on the writing until I had built a better foundation. Beginning this research, I had thought that I was going to focus more on neuroscience specific research, which I definitely did pull information from, but a large portion of my research was closely related to psychiatry! Neuroscience and psychiatry are closely related and in order to understand one I had to understand the other as well. Once I had a basis of what I wanted to focus on in my literature review, I began the process of writing. This was a challenge for me for sure. I definitely endured writer’s block a couple of times and had to step away and come back to it later on! Once I had my ideas in concrete I was able to write more smoothly and efficiently. 

Next Steps!

Now that the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship is over, I hope to continue down the path of neuroscience and psychiatry, whether that be research based or career based. Completing this fellowship has allowed me to learn more and expand my knowledge about the field of psychiatry, something that I now realize I am interested in. This fellowship also allowed me to understand the issues within psychiatry and why personalized medicine is a solution. This is something that I would love to expand more on in my future. 

A Sneak Peak into My Work 🙂

There has been a surge in mental health diagnoses ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. Being put into quarantine, contracting COVID-19, or losing a loved one due to the virus were all not uncommon. Thus, people experienced increased levels of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. According to the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, increased by 25% just in the first year of the pandemic. The abundance of mental health diagnoses and psychiatric prescriptions increases the need for a call to action about psychiatric drugs. Specifically, decreasing the amount of trial and error completed while trying to find a beneficial prescription. 

Patients who are put on psychiatric medication, specifically psychotropic drugs, often struggle finding the best medication for them. This is commonly an issue because mental illnesses are complex and require more attention than a physical illness sometimes does. 

Psychiatric drugs are very difficult to treat on the first try. As noted, there is often trial and error involved, which needs to be reduced. With the prescription of a psychiatric drug comes the risk of adverse complications, especially on a neurological basis. These risks can be due to the lack of proper health screening, which is possible during a short psychiatry visit. 

The risk of neurological complications is always an associated risk with being prescribed psychiatric medication, but it is also something that shows the need for more personalized care in the field of psychiatry. For example, extrapyramidal symptoms can be reduced by performing the correct health screenings. Also, similarly with neuroleptic malignant syndrome, the risk of NMS can be reduced by gradually increasing medication rather than doing so rapidly. And lastly, with serotonin toxicity, the risk is prevalent when two serotonin-increasing medications run through different pathways.  

 In order to achieve the level of personal care that is needed, technology can be used. The use of technology omits the possibility of error by doctor and increases the possibility of patient satisfaction with the first drug they use. In an article found in the Journal of Personalized Medicine, the concept of using human-induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology as a tool for patient-specific medication is a potential approach.  This technology allows for the patient’s pathophysiology and pharmacological responsiveness to medications to be tested, reducing the levels of trial and error that would normally be used under the care of only a doctor. 

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