Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Casey Herbert Rose Hills

Using CRISPR to Investigate Sleep Disorder Genes in Xenopus Laevis

Neuropsychiatric disorders are commonly associated with sleep disturbances and a high percentage of chronic sleep issues. Children with neurodevelopmental genetic conditions have a high likelihood of developing sleep disorders, which consequently leads to an array of neuropsychiatric conditions. Unraveling the relationship between sleep, neurodevelopment, and neuropsychiatric disorders is extremely difficult due to their complexities and interlinking factors. Genomic studies have led to the identification of genes correlated with human sleep disorders. However, unlike previous studies that focus on how genes control sleep behavior, I propose to analyze specific sleep disorder risk genes and their effect on neural development in Xenopus Laevis by performing CRISPR/Cas9 knockouts. This will allow for morphological comparison of brain structures in half-mutated specimens via antibody staining. It serves as an ideal model organism for this project, because X. Laevis and the human brain have homologous structures. Therefore, changes seen in brain development in X. Laevis will inform the underlying mechanism for the disease in humans.

Message To Sponsor

I am extremely excited to be conducting my own independent research this summer, and would like to thank my donors for their financial support so I am able to undertake this unique experience! This would not be possible without their help. I am very fortunate to be able to play a part in advancing the field of developmental biology, and thankful that others share this passion and are willing to support me in my endeavors.
Major: Molecular Environmental Biology
Mentor: Richard Harland
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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