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University of Windsor
Award pulls student from behind the scenes
Deyzi Gueorguieva came to the University of Windsor to pursue a career in human health — possibly medicine or nursing. Now a master's student in biochemistry, she finds the research rewarding: "It's nice to work behind the scenes toward something that you know may help people." But her work isn't behind the scenes anymore. Earlier this month, she was awarded an $18,000 annual fellowship by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.~
Biochemistry master's student Deyzi Gueorguieva won an $18,000 scholarship from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario for cardiovascular or cerebrovascular research.
It's the first time a University of Windsor student has received one of the foundation's Master's Studentship scholarships, one of just 17 awarded across the province this year. The grant is worth $18,000 a year for up to two years. Gueorguieva says she is grateful to receive such a prestigious award, and encouraged by the recognition of her work.
"I'm really lucky to be working with (biochemistry professor Siyaram) Pandey, which puts me in a position to win awards like this," says Gueorguieva. She also credits members of her lab, including fourth-year biochemistry student Nicole Walsh.
Her research centres on fighting cell death, specifically in the brain and heart, which may lead to treatment of stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
"Neuronal and cardiac cells don't divide. That's why the effects of heart attacks and strokes can be so damaging," she says.
Gueorguieva has been researching the use of antibodies to neutralize Bax, a protein associated with cell death. She says she likes the fact that her project has clear steps toward clear goals.
"We know Bax destabilizes the mitochondrial membrane. When the antibody is present, it helps protect the mitochondria." By inserting genetic material into cells in a process called "transfection," she can give cells the ability to produce their own antibodies. From here, Gueorguieva plans to raise a line of cells that have the gene present for the creation of antibodies, making research into their composition much simpler. Eventually, she hopes to fish out a therapeutic compound which can be used as medicine.
"The final goal is always improving the health of people," she says.