For Emily Teichman ’18, the study of mood disorders, especially of depression, is a topic of great personal relevance. “I would be hard-pressed to find a person whose life, in some way, whether directly or through a friend or family member, has not been touched by this disease,” she said.
This summer, Teichman is working in the Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities (molecular psychiatry research) at Yale University under Dr. Ron Duman, helping a postdoc do research regarding inhibitory pathways during depression, and the interaction of these pathways with the rapid acting antidepressant, ketamine.
“I sense that a big deal for people dealing with depression is the feeling that they are the cause of their illness. The research we are doing on mood disorders helps to tear that misconception apart,” said Teichman.
By dealing with facts and protocol to induce depressive-like symptoms in rats, Teichman can see first-hand the strong biological cause of depression. “This research gives hard scientific evidence to people dealing with depression. It tells them that it is a disease, they didn’t cause it, and they can’t just will it better as many people would lead them to believe,” she said. “They are validated in their feelings, not at fault for them.”
On a typical day, Teichman begins work by preparing some data to be visualized (doing a wash for western blots or an immunohistochemistry of brain slices), and then waiting to see the day’s schedule. Because her supervisor is leaving the lab in two weeks, Teichman has been entrusted with more responsibility than the average intern in her position due to the challenging schedule, allowing her to assist on every part of the experimentation process.
Majors: Neuroscience and Physics
Hometown: Medfield, Mass.
High School: Medfield High School
“I’ve been lucky that the person I work for is so hardworking, allowing me to see and do so much,” said Teichman. Her work each day is highly variable and entails anything from performing animal surgeries to slicing brains to analyzing data on a computer.
At the end of the summer, Teichman will have her name connected to at least one paper, her first, and a much better understanding of her future in research and medicine. Following encouragement from her coworkers and boss, she is in contact with a lab in Ireland that looks into the relationship between the brain, gut, and the microbiome in relation to depression and other disorders. If the lab is willing to take her on, Teichman intends to apply for a Fulbright fellowship in order to spend a year researching there.