Researcher: Yuefeng Lu, Ph.D.
Dr. Yuefeng Lu, Assistant Professor of Biology, has been recently added to the RIMI Program faculty. Dr. Lu will focus on the disruption of serotonin system during early brain development by injecting anti-depressant drugs into rat models while the rats are housed at UMC. In collaboration with Dr. Rick Lin, Professor of Anatomy at UMC, Dr. Lu is exploring the effects in different brain areas after perinatal anti-depressant drug treatments using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). The study has determined that several brain regions exhibited permanent morphological changes. Data from fluorescent microscopy study and electron microscopy study have revealed significant changes not only in the neuronal cells but also in the neuroglal cells such as oligodendrocytes.
Future studies are planned to test different or different combinations of anti-depressant drugs and clarify the linkage between the abuse of anti-depressant drugs during pregnancy and nursing periods with the raising rate of autism. In collaboration with Dr. Gregory Chinchar, Professor of Microbiology at UMC, Dr. Lu received an NSF Supplement Training grant and has learning to to employ genetic and molecular technologies to facilitate the study in his neuroscience project. For example, by using Western Blot and DNA Microarray to compare neurotransmitters or enzymes in different brain regions between control rats and drug-treated rates, the disruption of serotonin systems can be demonstrated in both protein and gene levels.
Undergraduates that have research potentials will be recruited in both programs. The lab's undergraduates will have the opportunity of managing their own projects to work at Tougaloo College. These cutting edge research projects will facilitate their future professional career.