Ossining High School senior Meagan Ryan is one of four winners of the American Academy of Neurology’s 2021 Neuroscience Research Prize and the only student selected to present her work at the Child Neurology Society’s annual meeting.
Meagan was one of ten finalists for the award, which rewards students for their outstanding achievements in neuroscience research and recognizes the work of science teachers who support them in their research. OHS senior Bonnie Lin, who conducted her research on autism, was also a finalist. Angelo Piccirillo and Valerie Holmes co-teach the OHS Science Research Program.
The four winners each receive $1,000 from the American Academy of Neurology. Meagan, in addition, will present her research on how long periods of cocaine withdrawal and relapse change the brain.
Conducting her research at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, Meagan found that multiple proteins in the SWI/SNF remodeling complex – a group of proteins involved in gene expression and repairing damaged DNA – decreased when mice with chronic cocaine addiction and withdrawal were re-exposed to the drug. That suggests the proteins have a reduced function and involvement in the chromatin (chromosomal material) after a relapse.
“We can target these changes for potential treatments, which would prevent or help with addiction treatment because finding treatment for addiction, especially cocaine, is difficult,” she said.
Meagan plans to major in psychology in college and potentially pursue a career in criminal psychology.