Pheatured Scientist | 012
Meet this week's pheatured scientist
Bianca Flores is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Professor Eric Delpire’s laboratory at Vanderbilt University. Bianca is interested in researching drug development for rare diseases, as several of her older family members suffered from neurodegenerative diseases. She began her research experience as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Benraiss Abdellatif at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Her role was to asses the potential role of cholesterol within the biological mechanism that leads to Huntington's disease; an inherited condition in which nerve cells in the brain break down over time.
Bianca's curiosity on how the brain functions in all capacities in both the physical and mental health of an individual grew as she continued with her research. For her learning about the brain was almost like a spiritual experience because, "in my mind, the brain is where we exist as our one true self. Even though in the case of mental illness, 'one true self' can mean something different for different people." She was amazed by how such a complex organ could turn in on itself and what the entails for the individual. In short, she" fell in love with the brain because of its capacity to dictate a person’s life. It is the most overworked organ in the body we have (debatable)."
Bianca graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience as a first-generation student and Mexican-American. Continuing her passion for understanding the brain, she pursued graduate school to continue her research efforts at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She is currently studying on the cation-chloride co-transporters and their role in Hereditary Sensorimotor Neuropathy with Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (HSMN/ACC). Bianca’s research utilizes mouse models to understand the disease pathophysiology involving KCC3 and HSMN/ACC. In times of neurodegeneration, Bianca believes the nervous system affected by neurodegenerative diseases could have the capacity to heal itself. "We need to figure out how, and that is why I do research," she stated.
Outside of research, Bianca has been a huge advocate and leader for diversity in the field of science as a chapter leader for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in SCience and a scholar for the Scientist Mentoring an Diversity Program. She was also a fellow of the Yale Ciencia Academy which provides student's professional growth through mentoring, peer discussion, workshops for skill development, and networking.
After graduating with her PhD, Bianca eventually wants to run her own biotech business and be a decision maker in science as either a CEO or CSO. When Bianca is not busy being a girl boss, she enjoys reading, learning new languages, and hiking with her two mini dachshunds.