Edward Gelernt ’16 Receives Cogito Research Award from Johns Hopkins

Edward Gelernt ’16 is the recipient of a 2015 Cogito Research Award from the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY). He is one of only ten students in the United States to win the award, which includes a grant to fund his research.

Edward’s winning proposal is titled “Effects of PON1 and ApoA-I Variants on Antioxidant Ability of HDL.” Using the research funds from Cogito, he will test variants of three important proteins that make up high-density lipoproteins to determine which are most effective in preventing low-density lipoprotein oxidation. Edward hopes his research can be used to help doctors determine patients’ susceptibility to heart disease.

“You’ve probably heard of ‘good cholesterol’ and ‘bad cholesterol,’” said Edward. “The ‘good cholesterol’ is associated with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and the ‘bad cholesterol’ is associated with low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The prevailing hypothesis for how heart disease develops is that the LDL becomes oxidized. Research has shown that HDL can protect LDL from becoming oxidized.

“In an experiment that I came across, researchers put LDL, HDL, and various combinations of these HDL-associated proteins together in petri dishes. They incubated the proteins together, and then they added oxidizing agents. What they found was that co-incubating these proteins can help protect the LDL from oxidation.

“What I plan to do is basically replicate this experiment – but with variant forms of these proteins to see which ones are most or least effective in protecting against oxidation. The results could hypothetically allow DNA or protein sampling to be used as another biomarker in determining a patient’s susceptibility to heart disease.”

Edward’s research, which is also his MFS Capstone Project, will be supervised by Science & Engineering Department Chair Barb Kreider. Edward will blog about his progress on Cogito.org and submit a final report.

First awarded in 2014, the CTY Cogito Research Awards are part of Cogito.org’s mission to foster the development of promising young scientists and create a community that includes peers as well as working scientists and mathematicians. Cogito features science, engineering, math, and technology news as well as discussion forums.