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Hi! My name is Mia Foglesong. I’m currently a junior double majoring in psychology and neuroscience with a minor in music from Durham, NC. I always sort of knew that psychology and neuroscience is something I was interested in from a young age, but I didn’t have the words or knowledge of what the field was to state it. My experiences with being adopted made me question a lot about how our environments influence the way we experience emotions, perceive others, and behave.

Coming into college I had no idea I wanted to do research and wasn’t sure whether I would love psychology or neuroscience. Since joining the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab led by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson and doing independent research on whether dietary quality predicts interoceptive awareness through NSCI 395, I realized I love the process of research. I additionally joined the Herman Lab led by Dr. Melissa Herman on psilocybin on cellular, circuitry, and behavioral levels. Having these research experiences helped me figure out that I wanted to do research in Neuroscience post-graduate and of the vast field of neuroscience and psychology I’m interested in the neurobiology of emotions and social behaviors.

As I’ve grown interested in going to graduate school, I’ve been exploring what sort of careers people can have in research. Broadly careers can be in academia, the government, and industry. I saw the Gil internship as an opportunity for me to see what research is like in industry.

From there, I joined Dr. Thomas Gamage’s Lab here at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International working on radio-ligand binding assays to characterize THC drug derivates for their potency and efficacy on CB1 and CB2 receptors. RTI International is a non-profit organization that greatly deals with technology and scientific research to answer different world problems. There are five different units within RTI that focus on different things like health, environment, business, etc. The lab I work in is in the discovery science area. Dr. Gamage’s lab’s primary mission has been to better describe the pharmacological interactions of allosteric modulators and to find compounds that have these desirable qualities. The lab examines CB1 and CB2 positive allosteric modulators (PAM)-antagonists. In other words, the lab is looking for specific drugs that bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors and decrease an agonist’s efficacy when it’s co-bound with this drug. PAM-antagonists have unique pharmacology in terms of how they bind and affect receptor signaling. One part of the allosteric modulation that the lab is interested in is the ability of the allosteric modulator to preferentially bind to receptors where agonists are bound to them. Dr. Gamage hopes on finding drugs that produce this effect of preferentially binding to receptors that already have agonists on the receptors and the allosteric modulator causing the cell activity to be reduced. Drugs like these can then be beneficial for the treatment of substance use disorders.

During my time here, Dr. Gamage has helped me learn a lot about general pharmacology on potency, cooperativity, efficacy, koff constants, and dose-response curves. I’ve learned how to run different radioligand binding assays, 3H and GTPγS, under the guidance of Dr. Gamage and Daniel Burris, our lab technician. This semester I have used radio-ligand binding assays to characterize different phytocannabinoids/THC isomers to look at their binding affinities on CB1 and CB2 receptors. These phytocannabinoids have not been well characterized despite their wide use.

All the mentorship I have received in this lab has been outstanding. I want to thank both Dr. Gamage and Daniel for taking the time to help me become a better researcher and teach me new techniques and skills. This has been such a wonderful experience and has expanded the knowledge that I have on pharmacology and neuroscience.

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