Interdisciplinary Life Science - PULSe Great research is a matter of choice

Sasha M. Vega Alvarez

Sasha M. Vega Alvarez Profile Picture
Training Group:

Basic Medical Sciences

Mentor / Lab:

Riyi Shi, M.D., Ph.D. / Laboratory of Translational Neuroscience

Specific Research Area / Project:

Oxidative stress-mediated inflammation and behavioral deficits after mild blast-induced traumatic brain injury (mbTBI)

Undergraduate Institution:

University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez


Research Profile:

Due to the multifocal nature of mbTBI, complex cascades of distinct but interconnected cellular events are initiated leading to post-mbTBI neurobehavioral shortcomings. An extremely important part of this molecular cascade is the generation of reactive species leading to oxidative stress. Moreover, oxidative stress and its triggered proinflammatory cascade have been extensively linked to some mental abnormalities reported after mbTBI. By employing a model of mbTBI that closely resembles the human condition, we are evaluating the role of acrolein, a well-known toxic byproduct of oxidative stress, in glial activation and the development of subclinical behavioral deficits following a mbTBI.Increasing efforts to prevent and treat traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are taking place, as their occurrence represents 30% of all injuries in recent military conflicts. Distinctions between various forms of TBI have not been well characterized until recently and consequently the incidence of blast-induced TBI (bTBI) is greatly underestimated. While extreme cases of bTBI result in early intervention, symptoms of mild bTBI (mbTBI) can go unnoticed. Nevertheless, mbTBI is not completely asymptomatic and an in-depth clinical assessment suggests a cognitive sequela. Social impairments have been widely reported in bTBI patients and these transient or permanent deficits have been shown to hinder full reintegration to civilian life. There is a lack of general pathophysicological characterization correlating the primary pressure component of a blast wave to behavioral and cognitive deficits. Thus, we are interested in assessing these behavioral alterations as a way of understanding the progression of bTBI.


Sasha M. Vega Alvarez Research Picture

About Me:

Sasha M. Vega Alvarez About Me Picture

The secret to success in graduate school is contingent upon conducting research in a healthy environment that encourages intellectual and cultural diversity. In Dr. Riyi Shi’s lab graduate students not only conduct high-impact translational research, but are also encouraged to participate in mentoring opportunities, community outreach and service programs. Moreover, as a PhD candidate in the Shi Lab, the high quality academic training and hands-on research experience will help me become an outstanding scientist. I strongly believe that exposure to a socio-culturally diverse environment is just as important for reaching this goal. I have found all of these qualities at Purdue. Both ground-breaking research through interdisciplinary collaborations and engagement in diversity and inclusion opportunities are fully encouraged and facilitated by Purdue, its Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs (OIGP), the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences (PULSe) Program and, in my case, the Latino Cultural Center.


Awards:

  • Spring 2015. Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Scholar program
  • Aug 2014 – present. NIH Diversity Supplemental
  • Nov 2014. PULSe Travel Award
  • Mar 2014. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology MARC (FASEB MARC) Travel Award - Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Immunohistochemistry and Microscopy Course
  • Mar 2014. Histochemical Society Travel Award – MBL Immunohistochemistry and Microscopy Course
  • Jun 2011. Merck Health Innovation Award in Science and Engineering
  • Nov 2010 – May 2012. NIH RISE-2-BEST-Program
  • Dec 2010. ASCB Annual Meeting Minorities Affaires Committee (MAC) Travel Award
  • Oct 2010. SACNAS National Conference Travel Scholarship
  • May 2010. 1st Place Poster competition: 8th International Conference on the Scientific and Clinical Applications of Magnetic Carriers
  • Oct 2009. SACNAS National Conference Travel Scholarship
  • Dec 2008. ASCB Annual Meeting MAC Travel Award

Publications:

  • Walls, M., Race, N., Zheng, L., Vega-Alvarez, S., Acosta, G., Park, J., & Shi, R. (in press) Structural and biochemical abnormalities in the absence of motor deficits in mild blast-induced head trauma. Journal of Neurosurgery.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. (2014). Tissue-specific direct microtransfer of nanomaterials into Drosophila embryos as a versatile in vivo test bed for nanomaterial toxicity assessment. International journal of nanomedicine, 9, 2031.
  • Park, J., Zheng, L., Marquis, A., Walls, M., Duerstock, B., Pond, A., Vega-Alvarez, S., & Shi, R. (2014). Neuroprotective role of hydralazine in rat spinal cord injury-attenuation of acrolein-mediated damage. Journal of neurochemistry, 129(2), 339-349.
  • Shin, M. H., Mavila, N., Wang, W. H., Vega-Alvarez, S., Hall, M. C., & Andrisani, O. M. (2009). Time-dependent activation of Phox2a by the cyclic AMP pathway modulates onset and duration of p27Kip1 transcription. Molecular and cellular biology, 29(18), 4878-4890.

Presentations:

  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Race, N., Lungwitz, E., Warner, T.R., Truitt, W., & Shi, R. Purdue’s Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs (OIGP) Spring Reception; Apr 2015; West Lafayette, IN.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Race, N., Lungwitz, E., Warner, T.R., Truitt, W., & Shi, R. Sigma Xi 2015 Poster Competition; Feb 2015; West Lafayette, IN.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Race, N., Lungwitz, E., Warner, T.R., Truitt, W., & Shi, R. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting; Nov 2014; Washington D.C.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Race, N., Lungwitz, E., Warner, T.R., Truitt, W., & Shi, R. Phi Zeta Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine Poster Competition; Apr 2014; West Lafayette, IN.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Race, N., Lungwitz, E., Warner, T.R., Truitt, W., & Shi, R. Purdue’s OIGP Spring Reception; Apr 2014; West Lafayette, IN.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Page, J., Park, J., Tully, M., Acosta, G., Race, N., Muratori, B., Walls, M., & Shi R. Purdue University Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Program (PULSe) Welcome Reception; Feb 2014; West Lafayette, IN.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Walls, M., Acosta, G., & Shi, R. PULSe Spring Reception; Apr 2013; West Lafayette, IN.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Walls, M., Acosta, G., & Shi, R. Purdue’s OIGP Spring Reception; Apr 2013; West Lafayette, IN.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Jao, Y-S., Santiago, L., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. RISE-2-BEST Scientific Meeting; Apr 2012; Ponce, PR.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting (JTM/PRISM); Mar 2012; Carolina, PR.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. Puerto Rico Symposium on Nanoparticles as Tools in Biosensing, Bioimaging, and Novel Treatments; Jan 2012; Aguadilla, PR.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust Innovation Pavilion at INTERPHEX Puerto Rico; Oct 2011; San Juan, PR.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. Frontiers in Biomagnetic Particles II; May 2011; Charleston, SC.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. 2011 Puerto Rico Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PR-LSAMP) 6th Transdisciplinary Research Congress; May 2011; San Juan, PR.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting (JTM/PRISM); Mar 2011; Bayamón, PR.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Martínez, R., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Annual Meeting; Dec 2010; Philadelphia, PA.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. SACNAS Annual Conference; Oct 2010; Anaheim, CA.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. 8th International Conference on the Scientific And Clinical Applications of Magnetic Carriers; May 2010; Warnemünde, Germany.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Herrera, A., Rinaldi, C., & Carrero-Martínez, F. A. Third Puerto Rico NSF epscor/RII Institute for Functional Nanomaterials (IFN) Annual Meeting; May 2010; Río Grande, PR.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Shin, M-H., & Andrisani, O.M. ASCB Annual Meeting; Dec 2008; San Francisco, CA.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Shin, M-H., & Andrisani, O.M. ASCB Annual Meeting; Oct 2009; Dallas, TX.
  • Vega-Alvarez, S., Shin, M-H., & Andrisani, O.M. CIC Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) Annual Research Conference; Jul 2008; East Lansing, MI.

Leadership:

  • 2015 – present. AGEP program: Scholar.
  • 2014 – present. Purdue University Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP): Graduate Student Coordinator.
  • 2014 – present. Purdue Puerto Rican Student Association (PRSA): Activities Coordinator
  • 2013 – Present. PULSe Science in Schools (SiS): Science Night Co-Chair
  • 2013 – Present. Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs Student Advisory Board (IGPSA): Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council member
  • 2013 – 2014. Purdue Puerto Rican Student Association (PRSA): President
  • 2013 – 2014. PULSe Peer Mentoring Program: Mentor

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