News Archive

Faces of GIAR: Anthony Oppong-Gyebi

December 14, 2021

$1,000 (Fall 2019)

Education level at time of the grant: PhD student

Project Description: Stroke risk increases exponentially among post-menopausal women, with worse post-stroke prognoses compared to men of similar ages. Key amongst the suggested reasons for this observed discrepancy is a significant drop in circulating principal sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. However, this is due to the unmet clinical needs from both estrogen and progesterone as hormone replacement, mainly due to the timing of initiation and age of recipients, as was revealed by the Women’s Health Initiative and other similar studies. 

The proposed project sought to investigate the plant-based estrogenic compound genistein as a viable alternative to estrogen therapy. With a rat model of transient cerebral ischemia, it was hypothesized that genistein’s neuroprotective effects would be less sensitive to estrogen deprivation length and age. Findings from the study showed that early administration of dietary genistein improves aspects of cognition including reversal learning, an effect that was blunted with extended delay in administering genistein. This project is relevant because it provides new considerations on the time-sensitivity of the female rat brain to genistein’s beneficial effects, with a potential to improve cognition in the target population with low estrogen. With the GIAR award, I acquired tools and logistics including a cauterizer and silicone sutures to facilitate the ischemic surgical procedure.

How did the grant process or the project itself influence you as a scientist/researcher? I applied twice before finally receiving the GIAR award in Fall 2019. As a scientist, the GIAR application process has taught me to have resolve in the pursuit of research sponsorships. I learned to be more meticulous in putting together simple but detailed information about my research project for target audiences. As a neuroscience researcher, the described project— aside from serving as the backbone for my PhD dissertation—has advanced my understanding and appreciation of sex- and age-dependent subtleties that influence  cerebrovascular disease pathophysiology and treatment outcomes. I am building on this knowledge for current and future clinical applications.

Where are you now? I am currently working as a postdoctoral data scientist with Biogen Inc. and a visiting scholar at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School where I am assisting with the investigation of the natural history of neurofilaments using comprehensive data science approaches. 

Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at