Milcah Poothakary, Elkins High School
Milcah actively serves as the president of the Knanaya Catholic Youth League, the secretary of Red Cross, and the secretary of Model United Nations, and several honor societies. She has been professionally trained in Bharatnatyam dance for the past 14 years. She is also a lead voice ambassador for Fort Bend ISD’s Student Voice Advisory Network and an AP Scholar with Distinction. Milcah plans to study either public health at Nova Southeastern University in a dual-admit program with the Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine along with the Dean’s scholarship and Shark Legacy scholarship, biology at the University of Texas at Dallas with the Academic Excellence scholarship, biology in the honors college at the University of Houston, or public health at the University of Texas in Austin.
GT Mentorship has played a huge role in instilling the values of time management and professionalism in Milcah. Milcah believes mentorship has prepared her to succeed in her future aspirations including going onto medical school and has helped her create unbreakable bonds with her fellow students and teacher.
Cintia De Paiva,
About Dr. De Paiva:
Dr. De Paiva is an immunologist and ocular surface scientist with a strong background in Ophthalmology. She is an Assistant Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, and been studying dry eye extensively, using human samples and rodent animal models. The primary objectives of her research are to investigate the pathogenesis of dry eye-related diseases with the ultimate goal to improve the diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy of the dry eye.
Dry eye disease is a common chronic multifactorial condition of the ocular surface which results in failure to produce sufficient amounts of moisture in the eye. As a result of dry eye, patients often experience eye irritation and blurred vision. As cures are sought, innovative treatments are introduced. Goblet cell density is used to track the effects of certain treatments in dry eye, as goblet cells are very responsive to the environment and inflammation. The secretion of mucus by goblet cells protects the ocular epithelium where they are found, thus more goblet cells are found in healthy eyes.
Increasing evidence has shown that gut microbes are important in regulating the immune system and bodily processes beyond the intestine. Previous research in this lab has shown that patients with Sjögren Syndrome (SS) have intestinal dysbiosis. Furthermore, germ-free (GF) mice have ocular barrier disruption with more infiltration of inflammatory cells and more importantly, decreased goblet cell numbers in the conjunctiva. Thus, this project explores the analysis of goblet cell count in female GF mice given various treatments of fecal slurries from humans and mice in two experiments conducted by Dr. Cintia De Paiva and a team of experts at Baylor College of Medicine.
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