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Christine Vo

Biological Sciences

Christine has taken advantage of many on-campus resources that support undergraduate research at UCI. She first got involved in research in 2000, as part of the Bridge to Biomedical Research Program. In the following academic year, Christine began her own project, for which she received a UROP grant. She presented her findings at the 2002 UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium and for the School of Biological Sciences’ Excellence in Research Program. She hopes to continue her research in an M.D./Ph.D. program and one day practice medicine. Christine is active on campus as a member of the American Medical Student Association, and off campus as a volunteer in the emergency room of Garden Grove Hospital.triangle.gif (504 bytes)




The olfactory bulb is the brain region responsible for the sense of smell. Previous studies suggest that glial cells play an important role in the formation and patterning of the olfactory bulb. This project was conducted to further investigate the roles and behaviors of glial cells in olfactory bulb formation. Zebrafish were used due to their transparent anatomy and rapid rate of development. The primary experimental approach was to construct fusion genes to transgenically label glial cells with green fluorescent protein (GFP). To accomplish this, the promoter region of the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) gene, which encodes a protein specifically expressed in glial cells, was isolated by screening a zebrafish genomic DNA library via polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Subsequent restriction mapping and Southern blot hybridization were used to localize the promoter region of GFAP within the PCR-positive clones. A GFP fusion gene was constructed from a vector containing the GFP gene and another vector containing a polylinker and polyadenylation site. In subsequent experiments, the fusion gene construct will be injected into zebrafish embryos and screened for GFP expression. The movement of the labeled glial cells during olfactory formation will then be visualized in living embryos under the confocal microscope. These future studies will serve to further elucidate the involvement of glial cells in olfactory bulb development. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                
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Oswald Steward

College of Medicine

Two types of cells populate the nervous system: neurons and glial cells. In the traditional view, glial cells are primarily supporting cells that function in simple ways to support the neuronal signaling underlying nervous system function. Recent studies have revealed unexpectedly direct and complex interactions between glial cells and neurons, however, and indicate that glial cells may undergo profound changes in structure in the course of their normal activity. Christine Vo’s work enables this class of cells to be imaged and studied at the single cell level in living organisms. Her work sets the stage for experiments now beginning to study glial patterning in the central nervous system of the zebrafish. Christine’s example shows how intellectual curiosity, hard work, and a commitment by UCI undergraduates can help establish new research directions for the laboratory in which they work. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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