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Mass Spectrometry Imaging for Revealing Metabolic Pathways of a Live Mouse Brain

In this I[X] Team Spotlight, take a look at the team behind the research. Dr. Xin Yan will share why this project is important to the community and how her team of students will contribute to the project. Discover what compelled the students to select this particular Innovation[X] project to work on, and what valuable skill sets and unique perspectives they bring to the project.

Researchers in lab

Dr. Yan, as the project leader, tell us why this project is so important to the community?

“We are studying brain metabolites that affect cell signaling using mass spectrometry imaging, an emerging and powerful imaging method that can visualize thousands of molecules without labeling. The study of these small molecules will help to build a knowledge base to unravel complex brain functions.”

What do you think your team of students can bring to this project?

“Our students bring diverse knowledge and skills to the project. They come from 6 different departments (i.e., chemistry, biomedical sciences, biochemistry, nutrition, animal science, and engineering). They share knowledge, gain fresh perspectives, and actualizing ideas.”

As students, what made you chose this particular Innovation[X] project?

“Professionally I am interested in the research field of nutritional psychology. When I read the description of this project, I was fascinated with the ability to discover new neural pathways in a mouse brain. Not only would this be an amazing accomplishment, but it would also provide unique knowledge and skill set that would prove useful in my future career. As I have gotten to work with the project, I have grown further fascinated with the potential for discovery along with the clinical possibilities of the DESI-MSI imaging.”

– Elizabeth Weisner, Nutrition Major


“The brain is a fascinating, unique organ that has prompted me to consider specializing in neurology as an aspiring doctor. This project was a perfect opportunity in that I would learn about the brain from a unique perspective as well as gain valuable hands-on medical research experience, especially since this was my first time getting into research.”

– Isabella Pedron, Chemical Engineering Major


“I wanted to get experience about the research process for interdisciplinary projects in computer science and the natural sciences. I will also learn in depth about data analysis.”

– Shantanu Thorat, Engineering Major


What part of the project will you be working on?

“For this project I will be taking part in both the experimental and an analytical side of the research. I will be involved in sample preparation of the mouse brain, mass spectrometry imaging, statistical analysis of the imaging data and metabolic profiling, and discovery of unknown metabolic pathways.”

– Elizabeth Weisner, Nutrition Major


“Sample preparation and the collection of mass spectrometry imaging data for mouse tissue samples.”

– Isabella Pedron, Chemical Engineering Major


“I will be working on the statistical analysis of data from mass spectrometry imaging.”

– Shantanu Thorat, Engineering Major

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