The CUNY School of Medicine (CUNY Med) would like to acknowledge and send our sincere congratulations to our very own, Nicholas Cordero, a rising U2 student, along with his mentor, Dr. Hala Harony-Nicolas of Mount Sinai Hospital, on receiving a Diversity Supplement that will be added to an existing R01 Grant. The Diversity Supplement is a supplementary grant given by the NIH to enable underrepresented students in the biomedical sciences to work with principal investigators already receiving NIH funding.
In the spring of 2021, Cordero applied for the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. The program runs for ten weeks and is a non-degree, non-credit undergraduate experience for juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing careers in research science. "As a rising sophomore in a medical track, I did not qualify for SURP," Cordero explained. "I was lucky to get a position in Dr. Harony-Nicolas's lab this summer, through the Diversity Supplement."
Cordero's research is focused on creating a neural map detailing the identity of neurons that project into the periventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus, a region of the brain heavily associated with the modulation of social behavior via oxytocin signaling. Cordero will create this map by utilizing virogenetic tools that will specifically target and tag neurons that directly interact with the oxytocin neurons of the hypothalamic PVN with a fluorescent protein.
This project will provide the basis for future studies in the lab that will aim to further understand how certain synaptic inputs into the hypothalamic PVN may be impacted by a mutation in the SHANK3 gene, a high-risk gene for autism, and how these disrupted synaptic inputs impact the hypothalamic PVN output.
Nicholas Cordero is a second-year undergraduate student and attended high school at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, NY. Throughout his time at CUNY Med, he intends to continue conducting research and plans on pursuing a career in pediatric medicine. His research interests include understanding the role of oxytocin as a modulator of social behavior in autism spectrum disorder and understanding the role of the sonic hedgehog protein in the onset of Parkinson's and similar neurodegenerative diseases.
Congratulations, Nicholas, we salute you!
Click here to learn more about Dr. Harony-Nicolas's lab.