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UAlbany Freshman Presents Alzheimer's Research in Hong Kong

August 18, 2010

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UAlbany freshman Aneela Gillani

UAlbany freshman Aneela Gillani wants to be a gynecologist. (Photo courtesy of Aneela Gillani) 

It's not every freshman who has been recognized as a U.S. delegate at an international science symposium before setting foot on the University at Albany campus.

But then, Aneela Gillani of Washington Heights, N.Y., has some pretty clear goals. "My long-term goal just simply includes my dream of becoming a gynecologist, and helping other people," said Gillani, who competes in the international 43rd Joint School Science Exhibition in Hong Kong later this month with her research on Alzheimer's disease.

"It feels totally awesome to know that there are people in the world who actually take time to listen to and hear what kind of research we have been doing," said Gillani, who just graduated from the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.

"I chose UAlbany because of its Early Assurance Medical Program," said Gillani. "I thought it was very cool because you don't see many of those types of programs in colleges these days."

Gillani looks forward to making new friends, both in Hong Kong as well as at UAlbany. "I'm simply just looking forward to the whole college experience," she said. "The classes, the professors, the dorms, and the whole 'meeting new people' thing...I'm looking forward to everything unusual and new that happens."

Aneela Gillani answers a question at the conference.

UAlbany freshman Aneela Gillani answers a question about her work at the research conference in Hong Kong. (Photo courtesy of Aneela Gillani.)

Gillani's openness to new research subjects led her to move away from a previous project on reproductive biology in women (her mother works in the healthcare field) to her work with Dr. Christine Li at the City College of New York, whose research is on Alzheimer's.

"I took a chance to try and learn something new and I actually liked it," said Gillani.

With Li, she studies small microscopic worms called C. elegans to study a protein they have called APL-1. This protein is related to the human protein Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP), which plays a significant role in Alzheimer's.

"Thus we study APL-1 in C. elegans and try to use the results to see if the human APP protein may have the same function," said Gillani. "And this way, we may be able to hopefully find a function for APP and thus prevent Alzheimer's disease."

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