For the heart to contract properly, every heart cell must be triggered to contract by a transient increase in the intracellular concentration of calcium ions (Ca2+). This transient increase in Ca2+ is known as a “calcium signal”, and this signal is altered in essentially every cardiac disease.
Therefore, the ability to visualize calcium signaling in heart could open a new window into cardiac pathophysiology. At the University of Maryland School of Medicine, my research focused on the synthesis and cell-loading behavior of a molecular sensor that binds Ca2+. This enables the sensor to report changes in Ca2+ concentration through changes in its electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrum. Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Imaging (EPRI) is an imaging technique that can be used to image physiological phenomena inside the body, including cardiac physiology. By loading our calcium sensor into heart cells, we can potentially visualize calcium signaling in real time with EPR imaging in vivo.
Gibran Nasir, ’13
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Sponsor: Brian Nowak-Thompson