Request for Funding
Medical Student Research Fellowship for Summer 2011
All descriptions must contain enough detail to permit an assessment of the problem that is to be addressed and the methodologies that are to be employed. Please be careful to outline the role that the student will play in the project that is described. Please ensure that all relevant approval numbers (IRB, IACUC) are provided.
Mentor: Steven Vernino, M.D., Ph.D.
Room number: J3.114
Mail Code: 9036
Phone number: 214-648-8816
Project title: Autoimmune Autonomic Ganglionopathy
Human subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable): 092004-041
Animal subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable): N/A
Project Type: patient-based research
Brief Description of Project:
The ganglionic (a3-type) AChR is found in the autonomic nervous system, specifically in sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric autonomic ganglia. Ganglioninic AChR antibodies are found in patients with autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG), and are believed to be the cause of AAG (similar to how antibodies against the nicotinic AChR cause myasthenia gravis). Patients with AAG present with autonomic failure, the clinical features of which include orthostatic hypotension, bladder dysfunction, anhidrosis, and gastrointestinal dysmotility. While autonomic failure can often be improved in patients with AAG following plasma exchange or immunomodulatory treatment, the long-term outcome of these patients is currently not well established. Recent reports have suggested patients with AAG may have increased susceptibility to certain kinds of cancers. This project aims to examine the potential link between AAG and other diseases, including cancer. We will contact the physicians of previously identified and consenting AAG patients and the patients themselves to determine the patients' current health status and recent medical history since their initial presentation with AAG. In doing so, the student will learn principles of clinical research and epidemiology. The research will help to establish the long term prognosis of this interesting disorder as well as insight into the long term benefit of treatment.
Previous Research Activities or Publications with Medical Students:
Tajzoy E, Mukherjee S, Vernino S. Autonomic Ganglia Neuronal Density and Synaptic Structure in Chronic Experimental Autoimmune Autonomic Ganglionopathy. Arch Neurology. 2011. (in press)
Emil Tajzoy has worked in the lab for the past 2 summers.