2014-2016 MARC Cohort






Maximizing Access to Research Careers: Summer 2014-2016 Cohort


Joshua Cazares

Major: Biological Sciences 

Home City: Visalia, CA

Contact: jcazares2@ucmerced.edu

Faculty Mentor: Professor David Ojcius

Interaction Between the Lung Pathogen, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and Epithelial Cells from the Oral Cavity
Joshua M. Cazares, Yotzelin Cervantes, Ye Zhu, David Ojcius PhD, Molecular Cell Biology, University of California, Merced
numerous transformations during its life cycle such as monocytes, macrophages, and endothelial cells. Studies showed C.pn is present in the oral microbiota of normal subjects. However, it is not known whether C.pn can cause oral disease. Chlamydia infections are usually characterized through inflammation, which is an innate immune response. A variety of pathogens and endogenous danger signals activate inflammasomes, which are multiprotein complexes containing an adaptor protein, a protease called caspase-1, and a sensor such as NLRP3. Once the NLRP3 is stimulated, it triggers the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, acting as a defense against infection. The human oral cavity contains numerous different bacterial, viral, and fungal species. The gingival epithelial cells (GECs) are the first line of defense against numerous oral pathogens, but it is not known whether GEC cells can be infected with C.pn and eventually lead to activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome. The hypothesis of this research is to determine whether C.pn can infect GECs and activate the NLRP3 inflammasome in GECs. The results from this study raise the possibility that under certain conditions, C.pn could cause inflammation in the oral cavity.

Alejandra Preciado

Major: Biological Sciences 

Home City: Nipomo, CA

Contact: apreciado@ucmerced.edu

Faculty Mentor: Professor Kara McCloskey

Alejandra Preciado is a third year undergraduate student majoring in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Human Biology. She is currently participating in Dr. McCloskey’s lab engineering cardiac tissue. She is expected to graduate Spring 2016 and pursue a medical or doctoral program. She aspires to be a leader within her community and is the first in her family to attend college.
Acellularized Heart Tissue for Delivery of Functional Cardiomyocytes
Alejandra Preciado1, Lian Wong2, Kara E. McCloskey2,31School of Natural Sciences, University of California, Merced 2Graduate Program in Biological Engineering and Small-scale Technologies 3School of Engineering, University of California, Merced
scar in the heart and can no longer contract with the rest of the heart, and will only weaken the heart’s ability to pump blood. Tissue engineering approaches are currently being investigated as reparative/replacement therapies for the broken heart. Various biomaterials for cell delivery have been explored, however; most of these methodologies utilize either single cell populations and/or single biomaterial systems. A highly functional cardiac tissue patch requires combinations of factors including: biomaterial architecture, material strength, compliance, cell patterning, and incorporation of multiple cell types. In order to address this chasm, our group has developed a tissue delivery system that incorporates combinatorial synthesis of acellularized tissues, moldable hydrogels, cell patterning, and cell-sheet engineering to develop an organized patch for treating myocardial infarctions based upon the hypothesis that alignment of cardiomyocytes will increase patch integration, cellular retention, and cardiac function. The acellularized porcine heart tissue addresses many of these design concerns, providing increased compliance, material strength and architecture for cell patterning. This project will 1) slice porcine heart tissue, 2) acellularize the tissue using a variety of methods, and then examine the biomaterial for 3) removal of all porcine cell products, and 3) seeding and attachment of human cardiac cells. This material will then provide a base for the cardiac tissue graft being developed in the laboratory.