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Learn more about miRcore’s journey and hear personal stories from members of our team and community.

 

 

 

 

 

As a scientist…[our job] is to come up with answers [that] give people hope for making the world a better place” – Dr. Francis Collins

 

COVID, Disease, and the Genome: An Overview of our 2021 miRcore Conference

On June 12th, our organization miRcore held its 8th Annual High School GIDAS Research Conference. We introduced students to engaging workshops, which focused on topics such as learning more about the research process, coding, discussion on a mental health journey during the pandemic, and a question-and-answer session with a panel of college students on transitioning from high school to college. Following these activities, students across Michigan listened to various yearlong projects that were created by their fellow high school students.

See Our 2021 Research Presentation Topics

 

“The Role of OAS1 in the Prognosis and Severity of COVID-19 Infection by Means of the Hepatitis C Receptor Pathway.”

 

Kaitlyn Sadtler Disha Iyengar, Ava Barbano, Amrita Kondur, Alycia Mann, Eric Li, Kayli Bannon

 

The presenters explored whether there was an established connection between Hepatitis C and COVID 19. This connection was based on recently given information on increased rates of liver damage in patients with COVID 19 and the notion that both Hepatitis C and severe COVID 19 consist of high levels of alanine transaminase (ALT) and aminotransferase (AST)- enzymes that are indicators of liver damage.

“NF-κB Enrichment Leads to Hyperinflammation in Patients With Severe Coronavirus Infections.”

 

Sophia Tesic, Tejaswi Koneru, and Rachel Boeke

 

The presenters described how people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, lung, and heart problems alongside older adults are vulnerable to developing serious long-term health issues from COVID. The presenters’ study aimed to identify genetic markers of the biological response to coronavirus infection specifically the NF-kB pathway’s role in lung inflammation after MERS-COV infection

“Impact of SARS Coronavirus on Innate Immune System Compared to Influenza A.”

 

Noah Black, Ashi Jain, Keerthana Danasekaran, Jasmine Wisniewski, Praveena Mohanraj

 

Given that respiratory viruses are thought to inhibit interferon production, the presenters questioned whether influenza A and SARS coronavirus have similar means of restricting type III interferon production.

“Potential Effect of Adhatoda Vasica On Chemokine Signaling and Applications Towards COVID-19.”

 

Emily Kang, Niharica Suri Kannan, Annabel Yang, Jeremy Nelson, Zaina Al Habash

 

The presenters explored Adhatoda Vasica, an ayurvedic plant-based drug with anti-inflammatory properties, in relation to a cluster of co-expressed genes, which all connect to chemokine signaling. They wanted to evaluate the plant’s effectiveness as a treatment for SARS-CoV-2.

“Pathology from Envelope Proteins to Heat Shock Response and Cytokine Storms in SARS-CoV-1 and 2.”

 

Maria Sicilia, Audrey Gunawan, Azeem Saifee, Shruthi Chakravarthy

 

Because globalization, urbanization, and climate change have increased the risk of a pandemic, exploring the gene that inhibits cytokine production and T-cell effector function could be applied to strengthening existing vaccines.

“Microarray Analysis Of Apoptotic Pathways in SARS-COV-1 versus SARS-COV-1-Δe: Regulation of Inflammation and Necrosis via TNF, IL-17, JUN, and others.”

 

Himal Bamzai-Wokhlu, Nicole Qian, McKayla Ro, Ellen Hu

 

Their study focused on uncovering pathways affected during the SARS-CoV outbreak, which could have led to its high fatality rate, to see if the findings could be extended to SAR CoV-2.

“Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer Through Binary Computational Classification Models.”

 

Noah Black, Abigail Yoo, Grace Chae, Abigail Ahn

 

They noted that 4 percent of women and 4.3 percent of men are affected by colorectal cancer in their lifetime and wanted to know if deviations in mRNA expression can help with the diagnosis.

 

What it Means to Communicate the COVID-19 Vaccine

Getting the vaccine is crucial to ensuring the health of the public, but across the US, different communities may have concerns about COVID vaccine. Below are some common concerns:

01

Accessibility

For a lot of people, the reason for not getting vaccinated is because it’s not necessarily an easy task for them. Barriers that can impact this include time constraints due to work and family life or lack of transportation to facilities that offer vaccines.

02

Information

The COVID vaccine is a new development. Many people of different backgrounds may be hesitant towards vaccination because they are skeptical about its effectiveness, amount of research done on the vaccine, fear of side effects or death, along with distrust in the regulations created by government and healthcare systems for getting the vaccine.

03

History of Racism in Healthcare

Many ethnic and racial groups have their own history of being exploited and discriminated against in the United States. As a result, this history and the persistent racism in healthcare has contributed to the fear and distrust of vaccines amongst communities of color.

What Can Be Done?

 

Establish trust! While there are numerous research studies that can debunk the misinformation about the vaccine, concrete evidence is not enough to convince vaccine hesitant groups to get vaccinated. A lot of what people experienced during the pandemic along with their sociocultural/political background affects their choice. Be considerate of how various identities and accessibility to healthcare education play a role in people’s perspectives.

In addition, trust can be built best through personal connections. For example, local leaders have a larger influence on establishing trust with their communities, and those that are confident about the vaccine are more likely to encourage others within their community to get vaccinated. Working with respected messengers such as local community leaders or entertainers towards vaccine advocacy can help encourage diverse vaccine hesitant groups to get vaccinated and reduce COVID cases.  

Answering questions and listening attentively to the concerns one may have about the COVID vaccine will require very much patience, but addressing these concerns can help get people vaccinated and reduce the spread of common misinformation about the vaccines. So, be personable with how you communicate information about the vaccine, and we can certainly work together to help save lives!

Thank you for staying informed.

 

Content provided by miRcore Vaccine Advocacy (MVA)

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