Written and Illustrated by Katie Cheng
Memory loss can present itself in many ways throughout all stages in life. From the occasional bouts of forgetfulness to early indications of Alzheimer’s disease, all of these moments can be frustrating to the person affected and even to those who interact with them. As I witness my aging grandmother who displays signs of dementia, I have become curious about the biological mechanisms that undermine proper cognitive function. Although I am unsure if her recently displayed symptoms may be related to an onset of Alzheimer’s disease, it is my hope that through my interactions with this kind of research I can begin to understand some of the molecular pathways by which this disease operates.
My biology background, in the classroom and as a research assistant in Dr. Chris Li’s lab, CCNY Biology, has allowed me to explore hands-on the genetic implications of Alzheimer’s disease. Our work focuses on the roles of genes implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. We use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as our model system to examine the function of the orthologous genes. Though what may be observed in the worms may not be a direct observation of what happens in humans, studying how the genes function in the worms has the potential to teach us how our genes and the molecular networks within our bodies may have an effect on the development of this disease.
It is my objective to use my acquired skills as an art student to break down this complex information. Through the use of traditional mediums and more modern ones, I will create functional art, with the purpose of sharing and making this research more accessible to a general audience. I believe the use of visuals as a communication tool can be valuable. It is my goal that the work I do herein will be used to educate others. And it is my aim to give the audience, and myself, hope through understanding some of the science behind this life changing disease.