Mengya Wang

Mengya Wang, Ph.D. student, Neuroscience and Pharmacology

Uncovers the root of migraines


Hometown: Xuzhou, China
Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. Andrew Russo, PhD, Professor Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? I am currently pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience and Pharmacology and I will graduate in Dec. 2021.
Please describe your research: My research focuses on the mechanisms underlying how and where calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a migraine mediator, works. Specifically, I am investigating the role of cerebellar CGRP in migraine-like symptoms.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? Migraine is ranked as the second highest cause of disability worldwide. Over the past two decades, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) has moved to the forefront as an important neuropeptide participating in migraine pathophysiology. Revealing the mechanisms underlying how and where CGRP works will shed light on the development of new therapeutics to migraine.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started working in research as soon as I joined the Neuroscience and Pharmacology program.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Involvement in research has taught me how to think independently and critically, how to collaborate with other researchers, and improved my communication skills. Research at Iowa has impacted my direction of future career and my general attitude towards life.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? My career goal is to be a research scientist in neuroscience, contributing towards the treatment for people suffering from neurological disorders.
Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain.  A CGRP receptor antagonist, a potential migraine treatment in clinical trials, is currently undergoing a clinical trial as a potential treatment for COVID-19-related lung inflammation. It is currently unknow whether it can help with pulmonary complication and possibly even with headaches, but we are hopeful that CGRP-based drugs may help some COVID-19 patients.



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