My internship this summer is at Gervay-Hague Lab at the University of California, Davis. It is led by Dr. Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague. Gervay-Hague Lab, also known as JGH Lab, is a Chemical Biology lab that strives to learn more about the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, the medical benefits it offers, and the underlying reasons for these benefits. The lab website gives a lot of interesting context and information regarding the research taking place.
For my project at JGH Lab, I am teaming up with a visiting Ph.D. student to continue to expand JGH Lab’s library of steryl glycosides. Steryl glycosides are compounds made up of two groups: sterols and glycosides. A sterol is a category of compounds that includes cholesterol among others; similarly, a glycoside is a category of compounds that includes common sugars like glucose and lactose. The process of expanding this library of steryl glycosides consists of fine-tuning the specifications of the reactions used to make the various steryl glycosides. Once this process is complete, we will run each reaction on a larger scale to create large amounts of product for future use. These products will later be used as probes to track the different processes that take place in the tea plant. Different types of tags will be used to further observe how the probes participate in the processes. Tracking these processes will help determine what factors contribute to the medical benefits of tea.
When compiling the library of steryl glycosides and performing these reactions, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is crucial for identifying compounds. Pictured below is an apparatus used to clean the tubes used for NMR; this ensures that the NMR spectra contains information relating only to the desired compound.
After performing a reaction, we are left with a vial or flask containing the desired product (hopefully) as well as a collection of unwanted side-products. A machine called GRACE pictured below can be used to isolate the desired product from the unwanted side-products. GRACE is a Medium-Performance Liquid Chromatography (MPLC) apparatus that works by using different solvents to elute different compounds at different times in order to separate products from each other, ultimately leaving the desired product.
There are several goals that I made for myself before I began my research internship at JGH Lab. I am excited to see how far I can get in accomplishing these goals, and where this will lead me!
My academic goal is to use what I learn from performing research in Gervay-Hague Lab to become more adept in my Chemistry and Biology courses. Just in this first week at JGH Lab, I have learned so much about different techniques used in Synthetic Chemistry as well as important things to take note of during reactions. Additionally, the biological context of this component of Chemical Biology.
My career goal is to obtain a job and work there for 1-2 years after graduation. Then, I hope to enter a Ph.D. program in Chemical Biology or Chemistry. I am excited for this internship to better shape my career goals for the future as well as potentially relate in some way to a future job and/or Ph.D.
My personal goal is to learn how to communicate my research to others through posters, papers, as well as in person. Additionally, I hope to learn how to listen to others and learn about their research through these same methods. During my summer at JGH Lab, I will be able to communicate my research to the other members of the lab during group meetings, discuss it with them, and get their feedback on it.
I am very excited to see what happens in the next couple of weeks!
-Daniel Farb ‘19