Through their lens: Christina Bui tries to understand how a protein guides new neural stem cells

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.

Christina Bui did a stem cell research internship this summer in the laboratory of Theo Palmer at Stanford University.

Christina Bui submitted this photo showing data produced during her internship to our #CIRMStemCellLab Instagram feed.

Hi everyone!

My name is Christina Bui, and I am a rising senior at Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose. This summer, I am doing a research internship at Stanford through the SIMR (Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research) Program, and I’m working in the Theo Palmer Lab (Department of Neurosurgery).

The project that I am working on with my mentor and two other lab members this summer focuses on a candidate protein called MFG-E8. We are studying MFG-E8 because it is very important in many physiological functions, like alleviating inflammation and maintaining healthy tissue. Since MFG-E8 is limited only to the area where new neurons are born during adulthood, we decided to see if MFG-E8 plays a role in regulating what cell types that neural stem cells differentiate into. We hypothesized that MFG-E8 affects the differentiation of neural stem cells and that MFG-E8 helps neuronal development.

To test the hypothesis, we extracted neural stem cells from the hippocampi (where neurogenesis occurs) of wild type (has MFG-E8) and knockout (does not have MFG-E8) mice, and did immunohistochemistry on the cells. We stained for certain antibodies to identify whether the stem cells differentiated into neurons. To analyze, we looked at the cells under a fluorescence microscope, and gathered our data from there. In the end, we discovered that our hypothesis was supported.
These past seven weeks, I have learned so much about stem cells and neurology. That’s what I’ve enjoyed the most throughout this internship—just learning about a particular field of science that a normal high school course wouldn’t focus on. Attending lectures, working with my mentor and other lab members, and talking to my fellow Stem Cell Institute members about our times in lab have been some of the best parts of my time at Stanford.

Although my summer internship is coming to an end, I may continue working on a second project on weekends during the school year in the Palmer Lab. I will always look back at this internship as one of the best summers I’ve ever had, and I hope to continue research in the stem cell field.

Christina Bui

Christina sent us these videos of her experience:

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