MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. -- A student at Lakeland High School is being honored for his work studying the brain.
Akshay Ramaswamy, a Mohegan Lake resident who attends Lakeland High School in Shrub Oak received an Acorda Scientific Excellence Award for his research paper and scientific work on understanding neural pathways in the brain to help develop treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Ramaswamy wanted to study the mTOR pathway in the brain, which helps with the formation of long-term memories and is the key to creating medicine for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
"I was initially captivated by neurons in the brain and the capacity they have to form neural connections, especially since my family has a history of nerve problems," Ramaswamy said.
The procedure used in labs is a complex method called electrophysiology that can cost upwards of $75,000 and requires much expertise.
For his project, Ramaswamy used a new research procedure where he set up beaker experiments and used certain chemicals to activate the mTOR pathway.
Similar beaker experiments have been proven to work on tumor cells, but Ramaswamy’s project was the first to apply this process to neuronal cells to activate the mTOR pathway. This procedure is considerably more affordable than traditional mTOR pathway research, and finding an efficient, cost-effective way to research this pathway is key to creating medicines for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
"This could allow for more widespread research in my field," Ramaswamy said.
Ramaswamy, who also runs cross country, said he hopes to pursue a career in biology research and development.
"Carrying out a research project for a larger cause is truly a gratifying experience," Ramaswamy said. "I have experienced so much, from men defending their thesis for their PhDs to even writing my own paper. Continuing in this field will only broaden my knowledge and lead to new enriching experiences."