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UOHS 2017 Elevator Pitch Winners

Emily Wolfe Phillips

UOHS 2017 - 1st Place Elevator Pitch Winner 


Background: University students face many academic and non-academic demands that may lead to burnout (i.e., a state of emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness). In this study, we sought to describe levels of burnout, perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and quality of life (QoL) among university students. We also sought to examine if burnout was associated with perceived stress, depressive symptoms and QoL, as well as with demographic (i.e., age, sex) and academic characteristics (i.e., participants’ target grade point average, number of exams/assignments). Methods: University students (N=738; Mage=19.6 years, SD=3.6) completed an online questionnaire in the Fall of 2016. We analyzed the data using descriptive statistics and correlations. Results: Relative to the scale ranges, participants reported mild levels of depressive symptoms (M=20.3, SD=11.5, range=0-60), and moderate levels of burnout (M=53.9, SD=19.0, range=14-98), perceived stress (M=19.9, SD=6.0, range=0-40), and QoL (Mmental=52.8, SD=17.3; Mphysical=62.4, SD=11.5, scale range=0-100). Burnout was significantly associated with mental QoL (r=-.71), physical QoL (r=-.35), perceived stress (r=.65), depressive symptoms (r=.71), as well as with age (r=-.21), sex (p=.13), participants’ target grade point average (r=-.12), and number of exams/assignments (r=.20). Conclusion: Moderate levels of burnout and perceived stress reported by university students in our study suggest efforts are needed to identify self-management strategies they can use to alleviate these negative states and optimize their mental health. 

Nivedh Patro

UOHS 2017 - 2nd Place Elevator Pitch Winner 


Formins are putative actin polymerization proteins involved in several actin-dependent processes, including cell migration, stress fiber formation, and formation of the cytokinetic ring. Though many members of the formin family have been characterized in terms of their structure, function, and regulatory roles, the mammalian formin known as FHOD3 (Formin Homology Domain 2 Containing 3) has been one of the lesser-studied members, with much information about its biological roles still to be uncovered. Our lab has previously observed that knocking down FHOD3 in vitro disrupts endothelial cell adherens junctions (a form of cell-to- cell connection), resulting in a more porous cell monolayer. Given that endothelial cells form the single-cell lining of blood capillaries, this finding implicates FHOD3 in the control of cell permeability by way of adherens junction remodeling. FHOD3 in its resting state is autoinhibited by forming a head-to- tail loop structure, therefore our lab has created a constitutively active form of FHOD3 by removing part of the C-terminus, in order to further study its activities in the cell. We plan to employ a BioID screen, whereby the constitutively active version of FHOD3 will be fused with a promiscuous biotin ligase (BioID), allowing FHOD3-BioID to biotinylate any proteins with which it interacts following transfection and expression. All biotinylated proteins will then be immunoprecipitated and analyzed by mass spectrometry to obtain a list of FHOD3-interactors, providing insight into potential regulatory interactions of FHOD3 in the context of adherens junctions. This insight will improve our current understanding of regulation of endothelial cell permeability at the level of adherens junctions, and possible models of dysregulation in diseased states, such as in atherosclerosis.

Lucia Chehade

UOHS 2017 - 3rd Place Elevator Pitch Winner 


Characterized by insulin resistance in targeted tissues followed by a decrease in insulin production due to B-cell failure, type 2 diabetes (T2D) is responsible for 90% of diabetic cases. Depression is an important comorbidity of T2D and it is present in more than one fourth of people diagnosed with T2D. The causes leading to the development of depression in individuals diagnosed with T2D remain unknown. Psychosocial factors (psychological vulnerability and quality of interpersonal relationships) and biological disarrangements such as sub-chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction could explain this comorbidity since these factors are involved independently in both diseases. This study aims to identify the psychosocial, biological and behavioural disturbances that could explain the presence of the comorbidity type 2 diabetes–depression.

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