Every Saturday was an exciting challenge that I couldn’t help but look forward to.
I can’t believe TRIP is almost over! It feels like I just started working in the lab, not 11 weeks later! Where did the time go? Probably into my project, which actually ended up going very well! My project was testing how lead poisoning impacted the gut microbiome. For those who don’t know, the gut microbiome is the bacteria that live inside your gut. It plays an important role in how metabolic/inflammatory diseases, cancer, and even depression develop in the body. Lead, as many know, is toxic to the human body. It can cause anemia, weakness, kidney damage, and brain damage. Its impact on the gut microbiome though isn’t known, which is why I chose this as my project.
The second part of my project was testing to see if vitamin C and/or iron could restore the gut microbiome in lead-poisoned flies. Iron and lead share the same blood transporter, meaning if there is more iron in the body, less lead will be absorbed. Vitamin C increases the amount of iron that is absorbed. The idea is that by combining them, the best protection against lead can be achieved. In this project, I also wanted to demonstrate a potential cure for lead on top of showing the impact it has. My hypothesis was that lead would negatively impact gut microbiome health, and that vitamin C and iron would help restore it.
In order to test this, I needed to create eight experimental groups. One was a control with no drug, one was with just iron, one was with vitamin C, one was with both iron and vitamin C. The remaining four vials followed the same pattern just with lead added in all. Each group was incubated for a week and then tested using the microbiome assay. The microbiome assay actually got much easier over time, and I luckily didn’t lose any more flies while doing it, which is a major win for data integrity. I did have to scale back my project from testing successive generations of flies to just testing the flies I put in the vials, but this ended up not being a huge issue since that was more of a secondary question. Overall, I’m incredibly proud of how my project turned out!
It is hard to put into words how much I’ve enjoyed TRIP! Every Saturday was an exciting challenge that I couldn’t help but look forward to. I had some experience with science before TRIP, but I feel like I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time. I learned advanced assays, problem-solving (where every second counts when the flies are starting to wake up), science communication, and most importantly, time management. I’ve been able to meet some truly amazing people through TRIP, all from incredibly diverse backgrounds, and I can’t thank Dr. Purdy and Dr. Leystra enough for their amazing mentorship. Sure, it was stressful at times, but to be honest anything worth doing is. Overall, TRIP was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to see everyone at the symposium!