Vibha Mahendra

Elucidating the structure and function of lens protein Lim2

The human lens is made up of two types of cells: a monolayer of lens epithelial cells, and its differentiated progeny, lens fiber cells. The differentiation process is a complex sequence of events in which lens epithelial cells slowly lose all their organelles, and elongate into lens fiber cells. There is a lens membrane protein called Lim2 that appears to exist only in lens fiber cells, and not in lens epithelial cells. Lim2 is known to be critically important for maintaining the integrity of the lens, and its role will be the focus of my summer research project. I will be conducting various in vitro experiments to determine the structure and functional domain of this protein.

Message to Sponsor

The SURF fellowship has given me the opportunity to conduct an independent project, which is an exciting yet intimidating task. I am really looking forward to my research this summer because I hope that my work will help explain how a critical protein can play a role in maintaining lens transparency, thereby preventing cataract formation. Since lens cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world, I hope that my research on Lim2 may result in some useful and applicable knowledge about cataracts. Although the experimental work is often difficult and poses a daunting challenge, I am excited to learn more about both laboratory technique and the field of optometry research. I anticipate that this summer will be a fulfilling academic experience, and am so grateful to have been given this opportunity!
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Mentor: Xiaohua Gong, Vision Science/Optometry