The Grad Slam competition gives UC graduate students the opportunity to build their communication skills by giving 3-minute research presentations. Participants in the competition come away with valuable skills needed for further career development. In the lead up to the 2016 Grad Slam UC finals in San Francisco, the UCI Graduate Division held the campus finals at the Newkirk Alumni Center on April 1st. Neurobiology and Behavior Ph.D. candidate Andre White won second place with his research presentation on substance abuse, and will represent UCI in the event the first place winner is unable to make the UC finals.
Andre is a graduate student in the laboratory of Professor Marcelo A. Wood, Neurobiology and Behavior. His 3-minute presentation discussed his research on exploring ways to weaken the strength of cocaine-induced memories. His target, the protein BAF53b, is important for neuronal communication. Andre was able to alter the structure of BAF53b and test for alterations in memory formation during drug administration. He has found that targeting BAF53b can alter the behavior of mice exposed to cocaine. It is his hope that the results from his studies might provide a novel target for therapeutics aimed at combating addictive disorders.