Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Through their lens: Victor Bakai studies a stem cell approach to treating kidney disease

This summer we're sponsoring high school interns in stem cell labs throughout California. We asked those students to contribute to our Instagram photos and YouTube videos about life in the lab, and write about their experiences.

Victor Bakai did a stem cell research internship this summer in the laboratory of Thomas Weimbs at UC Santa Barbara. 
Victor Bakai preparing a membrane for autoradiography. He submitted this photo to our #CIRMStemCellLab Instagram feed.
I had the fabulous opportunity to spend six weeks researching within the Weimbs Laboratory in the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Department. With the guidance of my mentor I tremendously increased my knowledge on the number one monogenic disease within the world, Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease. During my stint I learned much about the makeup and progression of the disease as this general understanding was vital to the future experiments I performed. My studies relates much to stem cell research as recent exploration has discovered that stem cells may have the ability to repair damaged renal cells via cell growth while also being able to regenerate new renal cells and potentially replace necrotic renal cells thereby enhancing kidney function. This information could be vital to Polycystic Kidney Disease whose patients currently have no treatments available besides lifelong dialysis and kidney transplant. Unfortunately stem cell therapy cannot be a direct viable treatment for Polycystic Kidney Disease patients as they are known to have a gene mutation which is thought to be followed by a somatic mutation and injury (The ThreeHit Hypothesis). Still there are many similarities between stem cell research and studies upon Polycystic Kidney Disease in the sense that both still have many unknown factors along with numerous questions relating to possible treatment methods. The mysteries that are apparent within each topic have caused an increased amount of studying upon them as society deems to be curious and active in attempting to find treatments for many harmful diseases that are currently prominent within the world.

My research has taught me a decent amount on stem cell curriculum and I have been truly enlightened by the new substance I have learned. I now realize the importance of an increased amount of effort and funds that must be generated to support the drive for stem cell research. Besides improving my knowledge on this research I also had quite an enjoyable six week experience where I was able to become quite accustomed to the laboratory I was studying in. To compare the stem cell field to another project done by an RMP scholar I chose to relate it to EulerBernoulli’s Beam Theory and piezoelectric beams. Obviously there is a great difference between stem cell research and EulerBernoulli Beam Theory, as they correspond to medicine and engineering respectively but through observations a few comparisons became apparent. Obviously one difference is that knowledge of stem cells will be used to introduce new forms of treatments to various diseases while this beam theory can only be applied to mechanical engineering truly. Nonetheless I observed that the main similarity between the two was/will be there impact on society. It is quite blatant that once humanity becomes more advanced with stem cell knowledge many new treatments will arise and therefore ultimately change the world. I believe EulerBernoulli Beam Theory had a similar influence upon the world as it provided a means of calculating the loadcarrying and deflection characteristics of beams. Although this may seem irrelevant one must investigate what this knowledge has led to. Eventually the Eiffel Tower in Paris applied these principles that were constructed and proved the legitimacy of this theory. Since then it has become a vital tool for scientists dealing with structural or mechanical engineering.

Victor Bakai

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