Rachel Fletcher

Student NameRachel Fletcher
Faculty Mentor NameSara Burke, PhD
CollegeCollege of Medicine
Research InterestsKetogenic diet, Neuroscience, Cognition, Neurocognitive Disorders
Academic AwardsChris Danek Memorial Scholarship 2017
Jupiter Medical Center Auxillary Scholarship 2017
University Scholars Program 2020
OrganizationsAlpha Epsilon Delta
Planned Parenthood Generation Action
Hobbies and InterestsPainting, Hiking, Reading, Baking

Research Project

Effect of the Ketogenic Diet on Synaptic Proteins in the Prefrontal Cortex?

Our lab is exploring if a ketogenic diet (KD) can help alleviate the cognitive deficits associated with aging. In previous studies that we have done, it was found that when on the KD, the compromised glucose and insulin signaling pathways can be bypassed, and this is beneficial to those with cognitive disorders because as you age, those signaling pathways become less efficient and play a part in neurocognitive disorders. This project will explore these complex interactions in more depth, with a focus on the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC), as that region has been shown to deteriorate with age. We will explore this hypothesis by analyzing brain tissue of young and aged rats that were previously on the KD and control diet. Synaptic Fractionation of the PFC will be done so that we can then run western blotting of the concentrated synaptosomes so that protein levels can be properly assessed. Along with the synaptic proteins, we will also be analyzing levels of various transmitter receptors, such as GLUT4, to assess levels of brain activity. Overall, we hope to learn more about the specific effects of the KD, and how these changes can be applied to aging adults to reduce the rate of cognitive impairments and neuropsychiatric disorders.