UROP Fellowship: Biomedical and Life Sciences
Research Mentor(s): Brendon Watson MD, PhD
Research Mentor Institution/Department: Michigan Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
Presentation Date: Wednesday, August 4th
Session: Session 1 (3pm-3:50pm EDT)
Breakout Room: Room 2
Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety affect millions of Americans every year, and have been known to be related to stress exposure. To examine the link between the development of these disorders in mice and stress, prior research primarily examines the correlation between exposure to various stress paradigms, such as Chronic Social Defeat Stress (CSDS) and Chronic Unpredictable Stress (CUS), on various metrics collected shortly after exposure to these paradigms. Because the majority of this research has focused on acute impacts of stress exposure, however, there is a gap in the literature regarding the longitudinal effects of this stress in mice, which could help create a better model of how stress influences the development of mental disorders in clinical settings. In an effort to address this gap, the Watson Lab uses a novel method (the ‘Behavioral Box’) that allows researchers to gather longitudinal data on the response of mice to various stress paradigms. The unorthodox housing environment created by the Behavioral Box system creates several potential confounding variables that could influence the baseline stress levels experienced by mice, and could thus impact the validity of the data produced. In order to control for these potential variables, this project will compare sucrose preference, Tail Suspension Test (TST), Open Field Test (OFT), coat state, and gene expression data across mice housed in the Watson Lab Behavioral Boxes and those housed in the standard vivarium environment at the University of Michigan. Researchers expect that the findings of this study will provide important evidence regarding the efficacy of the Behavioral Box method, serving as a proof of concept.