Basil Hashimi is a third year undergraduate student majoring in Biology. His research interests include neurodegenerative diseases, immunology and dopamine transporter. He plans on going to medical school after he graduates with the goal of specializing in some form of surgery.
Research : Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a disease characterized by dopaminergic neurodegeneration. While the process has been studied for decades, mechanistic insight into the cause of PD has remained elusive. My project is focused on studying the mechanistic relationship between the peripheral immune system and central nervous system in PD pathology. For the past year, we have successfully established a flow cytometry protocol to detect DAT, TH and CD14 expression in PD monocytes relative to healthy controls as a potential biomarker for PD. We have made the surprising discovery of increased DAT/TH expressing monocytes in PD patients versus healthy controls. Our data support the hypothesis that the CD14+ population is composed of multiple subsets of monocyte cells, including myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) capable of altering the peripheral, and potentially the CNS, immune landscape. In order to further explore the nature of altered monocyte populations in PD patients, my project is focused on conducting an extensive characterization of the altered PD monocyte population by investigating the presence of MDSCs in peripheral circulation. Using flow cytometry, I study potential biomarkers in PD monocytes to identify specific subsets with altered trafficking and cytokine secretion profiles relevant to PD pathology and neurodegeneration.