According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 percent—or about 40,000—births per year in the United States are affected by congenital heart defects, or CHDs.
“These defects include anything that alters the development of the heart and impairs the heart’s functionality,” said Tanner Hoog, biology student at Missouri State University. “While having a congenital heart defect is not a death sentence, we still don’t understand the mechanisms behind what causes them in the first place.”
Hoog was recently awarded a grant for his research into the development of hearts in mice embryos, which could lead to developments in the treatment of CHDs. Hoog is working in the lab of Dr. Ryan Udan, assistant professor of biology at Missouri State.
“Our goal is to understand how CHDs arise so that they can be treated or prevented from ever forming,” said Hoog.
After spending summer 2016 working with an optimal project tomography, or OPT, microscope at the Baylor College of Medicine, Hoog now has to process all the images accumulated over the semester.
The grant money Hoog received from the Tri-Beta Honor Society will be used for the next step in his research, which involves looking at the altered heart structure on a cellular—and potentially genetic—level. Hoog looks forward to continuing his research while in the accelerated master’s program, graduating in spring 2017 and becoming a graduate student.
“I know I want to continue studying developmental biology, so the next step in the road for me is to start applying to PhD programs,” said Hoog. “It is not enough for me to simply study a concept; I want to be able to distribute the knowledge. I very much want to live in a world where knowledge is not only embraced, but also understood. These are the values that I hold close to me and inspire me to obtain a doctorate. It is not about making me a better person intellectually—it is about making the world a better place.”
For more information, contact Udan, assistant professor of biology, at 417-836-5307.