Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

I am working at the UCI Brain Imaging Center under my faculty mentor, Dr. Jogesh Mukherjee, for the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. The lab's primary focus is to design and develop imaging agents using positron emission tomography (PET). My first project was optimizing a PET imaging agent for dopamine D1 receptors, called 18F-Profazepine, which can be used to evaluate Parkinson's Disease. More recently, Dr. Mukherjee has designed a new imaging agent, which targets plaques and tangles in Alzheimer's Disease. I was given the privilege of working on this project and developing the agent, called 18F-FBM.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I started research during my junior year after attending a Bio 199 information session. I am interested in the brain, so I looked up research opportunities in the field. When I visited the Brain Imaging Center I was impressed with the facilities and the area of research, and wanted to become a part of it.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Working in Dr. Mukherjee's lab for a year and a half has definitely enhanced my education and given me more professional experience. The literature I have studied and publications I have written have expanded my knowledge in a number of scientific fields, including radiochemistry, pharmacology, and neurobiology. I have learned many lab techniques, building on what I had learned from chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology lab classes. Most importantly, research has given me direct hands-on experience, which has given me a deeper appreciation for school.

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

My favorite experience was attending my first scientific meeting-the Society of Nuclear Medicine's 53rd Annual Meeting-toward the end of my senior year. I presented my project, "18F-FBM: A New PET Radiotracer for Imaging Beta-Amyloid Plaques and Neurofibrillary Tangles in Alzheimer's Disease," to a room full of professionals. It was very exciting to meet so many others working in the field.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

I plan to pursue a Pharm.D. degree and work as a clinical pharmacist in the future. Research sparked my interest in the pharmaceutical field, and it has helped me build the necessary skills that graduate programs will require.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

Attend the informational sessions and find an area of research you are truly interested in. Contact professors in that field and ask questions about their research to make sure it's a good fit for you. Once you start doing research, what you get out of it all depends on how much time and effort you put in. Be proactive and try to make the most of your research by participating in UROP and finding other opportunities. You will find that research can be a very enjoyable and rewarding learning experience.

Past Researchers of the Month
Dec. '06 Megan Trotter
Nov. '06 Allison Zemek
Oct. '06 Jeremy Roth
Sept. '06 Crystal Wang
Aug. '06 Michael Thompson
Jul. '06 Kimberly Balazs
Jun. '06 Joseph Boufadel
May '06 Vicky Zhou
Apr. '06 Jessica Morreale
Mar. '06 Talinn Toorian
Feb. '06 Vivek Mehta
Jan. '06 Pernille Hemmer
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