BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

MiNDS Manuscripts: Nicolette Rigg

Author: Nicolette Rigg

In this month’s MiNDS Manuscript series, Nicolette discusses her most recent publication in NeuroToxicology.

Click here to read her article!

Ketamine-induced neurotoxicity is mediated through endoplasmic reticulum stress in vitro in STHdhQ7/Q7 cells

What was the primary focus of your paper?
This paper sought to investigate a novel mechanism underlying ketamine neurotoxicity. Specifically, exploring whether the endoplasmic reticulum stress pathways, collectively known as the unfolded protein response (UPR) are involved in ketamine’s toxic effects in neurons. Our results showed that the cellular mechanism underlying ketamine-induced neurotoxicity involves ER stress-mediated apoptosis. 

Can you briefly explain the findings of your paper for someone outside the field?
(1) Ketamine-induced neurotoxicity was found to be mediated through ER stress dependent cell death in mouse striatal STHdhQ7/Q7 cells
(2) Ketamine neurotoxicity activated all three ER stress pathways
(3) Ketamine upregulated pro-apoptotic UPR markers and downregulated pro-survival UPR markers, including ER-resident trophic factors 

What were some of the issues (e.g., writer's block, lack of motivation, pressing deadlines, etc.) you faced when writing this paper? How did you overcome them? 
Thinking that the paper had to be ‘perfect’ before anyone could see it. I spent way longer than necessary stressing about the wording of sentences not being perfect. It is always good to take care to present your best work but aiming for perfection can be self-sabotaging as well. Eventually I did send it to my lab mates and supervisor and the paper was accepted for publication, which really helped me overcome this feeling. I have come to learn that drafts do not need to be final versions and to stop being my own harshest critic. 

Do you have any advice for anyone who is writing their first research paper? 
My advice would be to avoid the mistake I made in thinking that the first draft had to be perfect. Drafts are not meant to be perfect. You gain a lot of knowledge from the advice and feedback from your peers and supervisors that will make your paper stronger. As long as you do good work, things will turn out fine, there is no need to make the process a negative experience for yourself by being too critical. Let other people tell you no; don’t limit yourself out of fear of not being perfect. 

What was the most fun part of this journey?
The most fun part of the journey was the review process, surprisingly. I was very nervous the journal would flat out reject my work due to my above-mentioned issue with perfectionism. However, it was not like that at all. The manuscript was accepted pending minor revisions, and the revisions and questions the reviewers asked really helped strengthen my paper that much more. Looking at the review process as a learning experience instead of an obstacle really made the whole process enjoyable. 

What tools did you use to organize the paper?
Looking at other published papers and using them as a sort of checklist to make sure to include the appropriate sections. Many papers have the same general way of introducing topics and results. If you are unsure of how to structure a paper or how to word your section, taking note of how other successfully published papers have done it is a great first step. 

Thank you so much, Nicolette!
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