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MS Research Has Helped Honors College Student Visualize What He’s Learning


Joseph Bisulca — the URECA Researcher of the Month for August — is a senior in the Honors College majoring in biology with a specialization in neuroscience. He is one of two students from a pool of about 95 URECA summer applicants to be awarded the Chhabra-URECA Fellowship, an award that provides summer funding and recognizes students with a passion for research.

Bisulca1As a member of the laboratory of Holly Colognato, a professor in the Department of Pharmacological Sciences, since May 2021, Bisulca investigates potential reparative therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) and has gained experience in performing immunocytochemistry for in vitro and in vivo studies on a mouse model of MS. He has simultaneously been involved in a retrospective, IRB-approved chart study to assess the real-world feasibility of using metformin for multiple sclerosis using MSBase, a world-wide patient database.

Bisulca had accrued substantial experience on MS research while he was in high school as a member of Tim Duong’s research group in the Department of Radiology — work he would continue as an undergraduate at Stony Brook. This led to two co-authored publications in the Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders journal in 2019 and 2020. As a freshman, Bisulca applied for and received a URECA fellowship in 2020 to work on “Systematic review of cerebral cortical thickness in multiple sclerosis.” He presented this work at the URECA Celebration, and recently contributed as a co-author to an abstract submitted to the 2021 AMA Research Challenge from the Duong group.

“When you’re actually investigating something as opposed to just learning it from a lecture, you get to put into practice what you are learning about,” said Bisulca when asked what he enjoys most about research. “It helps you visualize what you’re learning much more. And so you gain a better appreciation of how the researchers approach problems, and what their thought process was: how they got from point A to point B.”

On campus, Bisulca is active as an Honors College big sibling, as vice president and event coordinator of the Stony Brook Pre-Medical Society, and has served as a TA for CHE 152 and 331 (Molecular Science), also receiving the Upstander Award for his participation in Bystander Intervention programs (including Red Watch Band, Green Dot Training and QPR suicide prevention training). As an aspiring physician, Bisulca has also been involved in neurosurgery shadowing (including at Stony Brook Hospital) and participated in Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Clinical Education Program.

Read the interview with URECA Director Karen Kernan.

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