Featured Research Project: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Hannah Marcin ‘24 is conducting research with Michelle McWhorter, associate professor of biological and environmental sciences, to study obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Wittenberg University biology major Hannah Marcin works with Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Michelle McWhorter in a lab in the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center. Click on photo or here to view complete photo gallery.

The research is a continuation of the work previously begun by two students with McWhorter. OCD has few effective treatment options, but some evidence suggests that an over-the-counter supplement called N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) may help symptoms in OCD patients. Marcin’s summer project is looking for a change in expression of certain genes that are believed to be involved in OCD. She and McWhorter are examining any potential changes in gene expression in a mouse model of OCD by using a technique called qPCR, which amplifies and quantifies how much gene expression has occurred. They then can analyze the results to figure out which specific genes are important in OCD pathways.

In the Student’s Own Words:

“I have been thinking about this since probably last summer, and I just knew it would be helpful toward applying for grad schools. I also have never done anything in a big research setting before, so this is helping me get a feel for if I want to go more toward a job with people or research. Honestly, once I got the hang of the process, it has been really relaxing to come in and put on music and just do my thing. It’s also nice not to be held down by super strict 9 to 5 hours. The best feeling is when I run a plate through the machine, and the results come back really clean cut. It’s been the little things that have given me the confidence that what I am doing is correct and that we might be getting important results, which is super exciting!

"I am very interested in genetics, and my plans are to be a genetic counselor, but I have never done research, so I wanted to try it. Dr. McWhorter is my academic advisor and was willing to be my thesis advisor as well, which I am grateful for. Both just lined up in a way that she was doing genetics research and needed a summer student!"

Hannah Marcin, Class of 2024
Hometown: Andover, Ohio
Major: Biology  
Minors: Psychology and Chinese language

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