Dilreet Rai, MS 5, conducted a three-month research study in mice that confirmed that diabetes plays a part in accelerating the build up of plaque in arteries. Her work was part of the Medical Student Research Program in Diabetes program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and its National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Rai conducted her research at the University of Washington School of Medicine Diabetes and Obesity Center of Excellence in Seattle from June through August with Jenny Kanter, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine, and Karin Bornfeldt, Ph.D. associate program director. Rai said she did basic research in the School’s Bornfeldt Laboratory, which focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of diabetes-accelerated cardiovascular disease.
“The lab focuses on why diabetes results in an increased risk of atherosclerosis-mediated cardiovascular disease and believes that inflammatory changes in diabetes play an important role in mediating this risk,” Rai said. “For my specific project, using a mouse model of diabetes-accelerated atherosclerosis, we found that diabetes, in part, accelerates atherosclerosis by augmenting monocyte adhesion to the endothelium and the effects on endothelium are mediated by a combination of elevated glucose and inflammatory mediators.”
Rai was one of 126 students from 69 medical schools nation-wide selected to participate in the research program at one of 18 program-sponsored diabetes research centers across the country. More than 550 students from 137 medical schools applied for the program in 2014.
In August, at the end of the program, each student presented their results at an NIH-sponsored national research symposium at Vanderbilt University. Rai presented her findings as the lead author of an abstract entitled, “A mouse model of diabetes-accelerated atherosclerosis exhibits elevated endothelial cell Vcam 1, Icam1 and CcI2 expressions: Possible role of hyperglycemia in combination with inflammation.”
The program provides students with an understanding of biomedical research and an opportunity to explore career opportunities in the field, particularly in the areas of diabetes, obesity and metabolism. Each student conducts research in the field of diabetes or obesity ranging from basic laboratory studies on gene regulation to clinical studies in humans and takes part in seminars on clinical and research aspects of diabetes.