MST junior published in Journal of Neuroscience


Olivia Dawson

cassie drury
Photo by Kaylee Arnett.

Cassie Drury (11, MST) was recently featured as a co-author in the April edition of the Journal of Neuroscience for her work with the gene CD2AP, which regulates a type of nerve growth known as axon sprouting.

Drury did her research with a team led by Dr. Jeffrey Petruska, the associate professor of the University of Louisville’s Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology.

According to Drury, her findings have the potential to bring about new treatments for neurological disorders.

“It’s potentially really big because no one ever knew why CD2AP kept coming up in relation to Alzheimer’s when people looked at the genetics involved,” she said. “Now we know there’s a link between the two that could lead to possible future Alzheimer’s treatments and hopefully could also be used in spinal cord and brain injury.”

Her involvement with the project began about two years ago, after her collaborators had already done two additional years of preliminary work. Once the research was complete, the formal paper took half a year to write, because one of the paper’s authors switched departments at the university.

“I did a lot of the grunt work and more boring data crunching on it, so I figured they’d only give me an acknowledgement at the end, but I actually found some of the crucial data and ended up being listed as the fifth author [of 14],” Drury said.

Drury has competed in science fair competitions at the state, national and international levels with her research on the nervous system. She initially became involved in her current project when Dr. Petruska served as her judge in a middle school science fair and offered her the opportunity to work in the lab.

Drury said that she enjoys science, though she’s not currently sure whether or not she would like to pursue a career in the field.

“I love science, but I don’t see myself in a lab for the rest of my life,” she said. “I have been considering child neurology because it’s similar, but I could work with kids.”