Meredith McGuire, a Biology major with a concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology and minors in Biotechnology and Mathematics, attended St. Joseph Academy in Cleveland, was the recipient of an A.J. Palumbo Student Research Grant and completed her senior research project entitled “Effect of Kinesin and Dynein Imbalance on Axonal Transport Impairment in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.” McGuire said, “I studied the molecular pathology of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease for my senior research project. In ALS, motor neurons degenerate leading to muscle paralysis and death. Using a cell culture model, I investigated the role of maintaining a balance between two motor proteins which move cargos in opposite directions within motor neurons. An enzyme Superoxide Dismutase 1 (SOD1) is mutated in some cases of ALS, and it forms clumps of protein (aggregates) that interfere with transport in the axon. I researched how the balance of motor proteins is important in preventing axonal transport impairment in motor neurons in ALS. When axonal transport is defective in motor neurons, they may die. Implicating the role of a balance of motor proteins in ALS pathology suggests a possible avenue for therapeutic intervention in the disease.”
McGuire is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Alpha Chi, the Respect Life Club and Beta Beta Beta. She has served as a senior facilitator of the Saint Vincent College Collaborative Learning Program and as a laboratory teaching assistant. In addition, she has had two internships over the last two summers: One at the Lerner Research Institute in Cleveland and one at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. McGuire claims that these internships afforded her the opportunity to work independently on compelling biomedical research questions in professional research settings. “I brought back to Saint Vincent all that I had learned from these experiences,” said McGuire, “and applied it as I worked in our campus laboratories. Conversely, I tried to demonstrate the excellent training I received at Saint Vincent while I interned at these institutions.”
Upon hearing she was a finalist for the President’s Award, McGuire was “stunned and surprised. Saint Vincent is truly a community wherein each person is highly valued for their God-given talents and contributions. I have always attempted to put my best foot forward and to encourage those around me to do the same. I am humbled to be nominated for this honor when so many of my classmates have used their talents to such phenomenal ends and are truly beautiful people.” After graduation, McGuire plans to attend John Hopkins University where she will be working toward her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology.
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