Interested in the academic accomplishments of your peers? Well today we bring you Osscar, a senior majoring in Bio Technology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish.
He is a part of a team of students who are researching how to isolate and purify protein domains to help cure and prevent Muscular Dystrophy and explain why some asthmatic patients have difficulty responding to inhalers. And when he’s not busy with that in the lab, you can find him around UREC, in the weight room getting those gains!
I had the opportunity to sit down with him and ask him a few questions about his team’s research.
Why did you get involved with this protein project?
Osscar: “I like learning about muscles because I like to work out, so I was really fascinated with that aspect of the body. That coupled with my fascination with molecular biology, fueled my interest in working with Dr. Wright.”
How did he link up with Dr. Wright? Osscar first found out about this research project from a fellow brother in Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta), the Biology Honors fraternity. He started in the spring semester of his sophomore year as a trial run to see if he wanted to continue with the project and was fully committed by fall of his junior year.
Since Obscurin, the protein that helps in the contraction of muscles, has 71 different domains, the students and the professor have to break up the work. Osscar’s research specifically deals with the protein domain of Ig-21 which is specifically linked to why some asthmatic patients do not respond to inhalers.
How does he do this? He first grows a bacteria culture where he transforms the bacteria to pick up the protein domain Ig-21. Second he chooses the cultures that look the best and builds them in a large broth to create a slew of bacteria with Ig-21. Next he isolates and breaks open the cells of that bacteria to get the protein out.
Then he isolates the protein and purifies it through nickel columns.
Afterwards, Osscar characterizes the protein by looking at the types of properties the protein has. (Ex. its temperature or the diffraction of light). Finally he goes through a process called “dry lab work” by looking at computers and finding the Amino Acids on the domain in order to find the blueprint structure of that domain.
What advice would you give to someone interested in research?
Osscar: “You have to be willing to do the work even though you may fail a bunch of times. I have failed a bunch of times! [Laughs] You know, not isolated my protein good enough so I have had to restart. Don’t feel like if you have failed once that it is the end of the world. That’s just part of the learning curve.”
Are you looking to get involved in research, but don’t know how to? My advice is to ask your teachers and talk to others! Many teachers are looking for students to help join their research and all you have to do is ask.