Find in this page information about recent scientific projects, including:
- RIPL (Respiratory and Immunology Project at Larkin University) Effect Research Group
- Big Data analysis in Biological Sciences and Public Health
- Molecular characterization of airborne allergens endemic in tropics
- Statistical approaches to study the aerobiology airborne allergens
- Citizen science project to design assemble and program a miniature satellite to sample and detect fungal spores in the stratosphere
Current Scientific Projects
Our main scientific goal is to provide further insight into the immuno-physiological health effects that airborne pollutants of different chemical origins induce once they cross the human respiratory barrier among susceptible individuals (e.g. people suffering from asthma, respiratory allergies, and other chronic respiratory conditions). We seek to address our scientific questions by integrating human-based immuno-physiological approaches, molecular biology, and computational biology.
The RIPL Effect research group will also serve as a venue for the core of the group, our students, to complement and put into practice the knowledge gained at the College of Biomedical Sciences of Larkin University, carry out high-quality scientific research, and exemplify:
- inclusiveness (in the RIPL Effect team, everyone’s voice count)
- multi-disciplinarity (different disciplines will be integrated to reach our goals)
- diversity (we will value and respect differences in perspectives and opinions)
- integrity (our science will follow strict institutional, scientific, and ethical guidelines)
- productivity (we will input our highest efforts to reach our goals)
- innovation (we will remain open-minded, and will learn from both successes and failures)
- excellence (the highest quality of scientific research will always be our target)
- collaboration (what is done in isolation is often accomplished better in partnership)
- leadership (we will nourish from a culture of intra and inter-motivation and inspiration)
- Big Data analysis in Biological Sciences and Public Health
- Differential in Gene Expression between Fetal and Adult Brains: In this genomic data science project, we are evaluated differences in gene expression between fetal and adult brains. Transcriptome sequencing data (known as RNA-seq) for this genomic data science project was sequenced on an Illumina platform from human post-mortem brains. The raw sequencing data and meta-data related to each brain sample was retrieved from a public database. The data was aligned, quality control performed on the alignments, and gene count levels of expression will be determined. With the aid of exploratory and fitting statistical models, patterns of gene expression were identified between fetus and adult brains. Findings from this genomic data science project provided insights into genes differentially expressed between fetus and adult brains, and represents an example of reproducible research in genomic sciences.
- Example proteomic analysis of ovarian cancer : This example proteomic data analysis, performed in the Matlab computer language, analyzed SELDI-TOF mass spectrometry from blood samples of two groups: ovarian cancer vs control group. In this example, Matlab scripts are presented to pre-process the data, generate plots of the groups' spectrograms as well as ranking features using a two-way t-statistic. The data analyzed in this example was obtained from the FDA-NCI Clinical Proteomics Program.
- Molecular characterization of aeroallergens endemic in the atmosphere of Puerto Rico: This project, in collaborations with colleagues at the Department of Microbiology in the School of Medicine, of the University of Puerto Rico, represents our efforts to contribute to improve allergy diagnosis in Puerto Rico. Because there are endemic aeroallergens in the atmosphere of Puerto Rico (find related studies by referring to the bottom of the page in this link here) for which there are no commercial extracts to perform allergy testing, identifying the causative agents of episodes of chronic respiratory allergies among susceptible individuals has been difficult in Puerto Rico. Since 2005, together with Dr. Benjamin Bolaños-Rosero, Dra. Elizabeth Quintero, and graduate students under the mentorship of Dr. Bolaños, we have been working on providing insights of the aerobiology of these aeroallergens and characterizing them through immunological and molecular biology approaches. The long term goal is to provide to the medical community characterized extracted of aeroallegens endemic in the Puerto Rico atmosphere.
- Statistical approaches to understand the aerobiology of aeroallergens in the Caribbean region: In recent collaborative studies with colleagues from Cuba, we are currently working on generative statistical and predictive models on concentrations of aeroallegens based on meteorological predictors in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Findings from these collaborations will shed additional insights into the aerobiology and predictive models of aeroallergens in the Caribbean region, and contribute to our efforts to further characterize endemic allergens in the Caribbean atmosphere that may be contributing to the high incidence of respiratory allergies in the Caribbean region.
- Design of a CubeSat with a Removable Specimen Collector to Investigate the Potential of Allergenic Fungal Spores to Reach into the Stratosphere: Fungal spores, which are known to pose human respiratory health risks (e.g. respiratory allergies, asthma), are important contributors to the Microbiome particularly in the troposphere. Less is known about their potential to contribute to stratospheric Microbiome. The proposed research seeks to design a CubeSat with a Removable Specimen Collector to determine if allergenic fungal spores can reach the stratosphere. Air samples will be collected at ground level, troposphere, and stratosphere levels through a Removable Specimen Collector designed within a CubeSat, which will be carried up through the different layers of the atmosphere by the Perlan II glider. The design and performance of the CubeSat hardware will be optimized through preliminary experimentation prior to launch. Through optical microscopy and image analysis, the concentration of fungal spores per cubic meter of air and proportions of specific fungal spore types will be determined and compared between the ground level, troposphere, and stratosphere levels. Our expected findings will provide insights into the contribution of allergenic fungal spores to the stratospheric Microbiome, and thus the potential of allergenic fungal spores to engage in long-distance travel through the upper layers of the atmosphere.