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Cranbrook Schools Junior’s Research Takes Aim at Alzheimer’s

Over the course of an eight-week summer intensive at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Cranbrook Schools junior Amber Young was offered the opportunity to work with mentor Phillip Wong in analyzing the biology of Alzheimer’s disease. At the end of the eight weeks, Young was voted #1 neurologist in the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Program.

Following her research, Amber presented her findings to the Johns Hopkins faculty at the culmination of the program.

The most common form of dementia found in the elderly and the sixth leading cause of death in the US, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes progressive memory loss, disorientation, and confusion due to protein accumulation and neurological deterioration in the brain. The focus of Amber’s research involved the analysis of specific factors related to this deterioration.

“The main challenges of researching AD involve misunderstanding the basics of memory and unknown causes of tau protein development,” says Amber.

“Researchers do not understand how the brain processes and stores memories.

“Beta amyloid plaques originate from APP (amyloid precursor protein) that consists of the amyloid protein. Certain enzymes slice the APP to release the amyloid protein, which clumps up in neurons, disturbing neural activity. The target is to understand how to inhibit these slicing enzymes to prevent the activation of AD.”

Her experiences at Johns Hopkins led not only to her triumph in the Brain Science Program, but also to her plans and hopes for the future.

“At Hopkins I learned about different routes in the medical career including the MD/PhD program and medical school,” she continues. “I am encouraged to reach my goals and give back to the youth to promote STEM research.”

Having completed her internship, Amber intends to apply for the Neuroscience Research Prize sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology, a competition for high school students pursuing studies in the neurological sciences. In this way, she is able to extend her Hopkins experience to continue research in neurology.

“This internship nourished my personal attributes such as work ethic, leadership, and professionalism,” says Amber. “I was blessed to have an amazing internship experience at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.”