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06 Jul 2022 by connyschneider

Annette Vaglio Garro wins YSA’s Science Art Award

At this year’s YSA PhD symposium, held by the Young Scientists Association of Medical University Vienna, Annette Vaglio Garro received the Science Art Award for her picture “Meeting by synapsis”. Annette is doing her PhD in the field of traumatic brain injury and glutamate excitotoxicity. She is part of the group on the molecular basis of organ failure and regeneration, lead by Andrey Kozlov.

The inflammatory response, activated after trauma, increases the production of nitric oxide (NO) in the brain. NO migrates to different regions of the cerebral cortex, inhibiting an enzyme of the Krebs cycle responsible for converting 2-Oxoglutarate into Succinyl CoA, and causing an increase in glutamate concentrations. Thus, severe damage can occur also as secondary reaction to trauma.

To study this mechanism, Annette is culturing primary cells isolated from the cerebral cortex with the aim of assessing the glutamate excitotoxicity. As a first step, she needs to define a representative ratio of neurons and astrocytes in her cultures. Therefore, cells are fixed and stained with a red fluorescence biomarker against MAPT (microtubule-associated protein 2) to identify the neurons in the total population of the co-culture.

About her contribution to the Science Art Contest, she tells the story: One night, when I was checking my slides to define the best immunostaining conditions, I saw these two cells together, and I thought: what a beautiful cell interaction and how lucky I am to find it –  and this is how “Meeting by synapsis” was born.

a. “Meeting by synapsis” shows cells from the cerebral cortex with blue DAPI and red MAPT staining