According the World Health Organization, approximately one-third of the human population is infected with tuberculosis. This statistic is rather large in comparison to the percent of the population that individuals believe are infected with tuberculosis. Due to many ethical guidelines that the medical community has established, researchers have been limited in the ways to study this disease. The way in which I have chosen to study this disease is rather new to the scientific community. My research thus far has been to find a way to utilize the nematode Caenorhabditis elegansin order to study tuberculosis in vivoin a successful manner to set a bases for further studies.
With the great amount of help that I have received from my mentors this summer, I was able to be very resourceful while figuring out how to go about this project. The major point at hand was to make plates in which can allow both the bacteria and the worms to survive. Through the extensive background that Dr. Marcy Kelly has on tuberculosis and BCG, I was already given a protocol for plates that allow BCG to grow. These plates consisted of 7H11-based media. The worms were found to thrive on cholesterol-based media. With many trials we were about to utilize and combine both protocols in order to create a plate consisting of 7H11- and cholesterol-based media. Another aspect of trying to manipulate C. elegansis understanding their food choice. The worms’ preferred food choice was stated to be E. colithroughout much of the literature I read, and through the expertise of Dr. Marcello. Through many trial runs, we were not able to determine the food choice of the worms. In order to determine this, we put equal amounts of E. coli and BCG.
To summarize, C. elegansseems to have the potential to be an exemplar model for studying tuberculosis infection. Even though C. elegans has not demonstrated a preference for BCG as a food source, there is data demonstrating that the worms will ingest the bacteria. We have also established a media that allows the growth of both the bacteria and the worms.
I have experienced many small accomplishments throughout this research. To begin, I have gained a large understanding of both BCG and C. elegans. Of course, I plan to learn more and more every day and get a greater knowledge on the topic.
Overall, I have gained great patience through this experience. I know understand that I have to work around bacteria’s time frame, and it was challenging. Fortunately, I was able to gain great time management skills. I also had to deal with a lot of experiences with research not cooperating well with me. This tested by patience tremendously, but in the end, it made me a better researcher. The experience in the lab with Dr. Kelly and Dr. Marcello was incredible. Being able to work one on one with them was an honor that I will continue to cherish. I hope more of their knowledge gets passed on to be throughout time.
My researchers were very understanding and helpful resources. Not only did they dedicate their time to me, but they were willing to help with questions all hours of the day. Having a demanding schedule really challenged me this summer, and the compassion they showed me was incredible. They also taught me so much in such a small amount of time. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity that the provost grant and my mentors have provided me.