My name is Kamyra Edokpolor and I’m a rising 4th-year Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience (NS) at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. I’m originally from a small suburb outside of Boston, MA called Milton. 

I attended Bryn Mawr College for my undergraduate degree in psychology and neuroscience before I completed a one-year post-baccalaureate research program at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. 

Since reaching candidacy last fall, this has allowed me room to explore Atlanta’s community outside of Emory University’s walls. Service and support to the Black community have been an important element in my life since high school, where I volunteered at a non-profit organization called the City School. This past January, I began mentoring at a local organization focused on uplifting middle and high school Black and Brown girls, called Just Us Girls

Since the current Black Lives Matter uprisings across the country, I’ve also become more involved with some grassroots organizers in the ATL area as well, planning protests and discussing various ways to support the communities most affected by Police Brutality. My long-term goal is to somehow integrate science education and inner-city community outreach. 

My research focuses on the central nervous symptoms mediated by GABA (the major inhibitory neurotransmitter of the brain) that are altered in a disease called Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1). I specifically examine a mouse model of this disease and test responses to GABAergic agents, such as various anesthetics and benzodiazepines. I am also testing a therapeutic agent to see if some of the phenotypes I’ve discovered can be reversed! DM1 is not a super well-known disease, but I really enjoy my current work and think it will add to the field for sure. 


While Myotonic Dystrophy Type I (DM1) is the most prominent form of muscular dystrophy and is commonly characterized by its muscular deficits, 

  1. DM1 is a highly multisystemic disease. Patients report symptoms related to the central nervous system, GI tract, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and more. 
  2. GABA is the only neurotransmitter that is never broken down! Through various cellular mechanisms, GABA is always recycled. 
  3. If you have ever had anesthesia during a surgery, one may think they are going to sleep. But in fact, the brain regions involved in sleep, the induction of anesthesia, the maintenance of anesthesia and the recovery from anesthesia are all very distinct. EEG studies even show differences in brain wave activity! 

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