Rachel Crawford

Rachel Crawford, Ph.D. student, Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry

Uncovers biomarkers for Parkinson's

Hometown: Spearfish, SD
Faculty mentor/advisor: Jonathan Doorn, Professor, Pharmacy
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? PhD in Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry, 2022
Please describe your research: The neurotransmitter dopamine is a highly regulated molecule, and any interruption in its homeostasis could make neurons vulnerable to disease. The goal of my research is to examine the reactivity of dopamine and its metabolites. Specifically, I use analytical chemistry techniques in the hopes of discovering biomarkers that are linked to dopamine homeostasis disruption.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? Parkinson’s disease is linked to the dysregulation of dopamine, but unfortunately this disease is not diagnosed until patients develop motor symptoms. The discovery of new biomarkers could help us diagnose diseases like Parkinson’s earlier, making treatment more efficient.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was able to participate in research my very first semester at the University of Iowa.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research has been paramount to my success at the University of Iowa. Research has exposed me to a wide variety of technical laboratory skills that are incredibly important for my growth as a scientist. Furthermore, research has helped me develop my critical thinking and communication skills.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I plan to pursue a postdoctoral researcher position that will further my skills as a scientist and prepare me for an academic faculty position.

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