Jun 212012

Ariel joined the regenerative neuroscience group in March 2011. Her PhD focuses on fully characterizing and efficiently generating skin derived neural precursors or SKiNPs from human skin samples. She truly believes her project is paving the way for new advancements in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. She says, crossing that threshold from animal models to the human model will provide better insight into key mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. If proven to be successful the significance may include new pathophysiologic pathways, and application for drug discovery, clinical applicability and possible diagnosis and prognostic tools.

Ariel migrated from Trinidad to the United States where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree at Albertus Magnus College, majoring in Biology and minoring in chemistry. During her undergraduate studies she maintained herself on the Dean’s list and was awarded several scholarships to include the prestigious Ann Schmidt and St. Albert awards. She was also awarded the Summer Hughes Research Fellowship award in 2007 from Wesleyan University where she studied under the guidance of Dr.Stephen Devoto, “the effects of gluccorticoids induced protein 1 on myogenesis in vivo.”

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, she worked as a research assistant for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center at the University of Connecticut, under the wings of Dr. Christine Finck. It is at that point she worked on using embryonic stem cells as a means to address the issues that surrounded bronchopulmonary dysplasia and pulmonary hyperplasia in pre-mature infants, which resulted in her co-authoring two peer reviewed journal papers.

She considers working with stem cells and cells of that nature to be a challenge but necessary for further understanding of disease mechanisms. She further states that the current treatment for Alzhiermer’s disease has proven to have minimal effect, and thus approach this from a different persepective. Ideally, this project should take it one step closer to patient- specific treatment, where we use the patient’s own stem cells to treat their condition. This would shed some light on Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disease sufferers.