Mentor / Lab:
Yuk Fai Leung
Specific Research Area / Project:
Drug Discovery for Retinitis Pigmentosa
University of California Riverside
Lab / Personal work-related websites:Leung Lab
My current research involves utilizing the zebrafish model organism in order to discover and develop treatments for the disease Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP is characterized by progressive degeneration of the retina leading to eventual blindness. Approximately 1 in 4000 individuals are afflicted in some way by RP, and there are currently no effective therapies or cures. By using zebrafish RP models, we gain insight into the disease progression as well as developing novel in vivo drug screening assays.
The drug screening assays are developed utilizing the embryos of zebrafish. Zebrafish embryos are spawned in large numbers, and develop rapidly. This allows me to utilize larvae that are only 7 days old to assess their swimming behavior in response to a light stimulus. A healthy fish will perceive a light stimulus and swim in response while an RP model fish will have difficulty in perceiving the light and will respond with diminished behavior. My goal is to identify treatments that will allow the visually impaired zebrafish to better perceive the light stimuli and translate them for human therapy.
My experience at Purdue in the PULSe program has thus far been fulfilling. My cohort has formed a tight bond together over the years. I have had the opportunity to interact with and collaborate with a wide variety of students and researchers that has allowed me to develop a good network. Making new discoveries about zebrafish behavior in the lab has been very rewarding as well.
- Ganzen, L. Of Zebrafish and Men: A System for Rhodopsin Retinitis Pigmentosa Drug Discovery, presented at 2015 Biological Sciences Department Retreat, Swan Lake Resort, IN 21 November 2015
- Ganzen, L. Identification of Novel Drugs for Successful Treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa, presented at 2016 Biological Sciences Graduate Student Retreat, Purdue, IN 16 August 2016
- Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Predoctoral Training Program (TL1 Program), TL1 TR001107 (A. Shekhar, PI)
- PULSe Science in Schools Co-chair