Mice, Sugar and Diabetes

Lacie O'LearyStudents Vishaal Balamurugan and Lacie O’Leary both explored the effects of sugar and how to improve health through everyday routine or through medical treatment.

Lacie O’Leary, who entered as an eighth-grader at Carrithers Middle School, warned about the effects of certain eating habits. O’Leary’s project, “If You Ate Like a Mouse,” focused on how food alone can impact a person’s body.

For three months, she fed different types of food to different mice. The mouse with a choice between healthy and unhealthy food was drawn to the unhealthy food, and the two mice who ate the unhealthy food gained weight dramatically.

The mouse she fed healthy food to had no change in weight, and it made healthier lifestyle choices (such as choosing to run on the wheel.) O’Leary connects her findings to the unhealthy eating habits of teenagers and the effect sugar can have on weight and health.

Vishaal BalamuruganWhile a healthy diet and exercise are important factors in controlling sugar levels for most, people with Type 1 diabetes require treatment to help their bodies absorb glucose and use it for energy. Vishaal Balamurugan, who entered as a sophomore at North Oldham High School, is searching for a better solution for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.

With the current treatment method, the inner cores of the beta cells, which produce insulin, do not get enough oxygen. Balamurugan said this is inefficient because it is expensive and can shorten the lifespan of the cells.

Balamurugan is working on a project at the University of Louisville that adds 3D collagen and Endothelial Cell Growth Supplement (ECGS) to cells. This helps the cells sprout, which helps blood get to the middle of the cell. He said his next step in the project is to get permission and test the process on mice.

We encourage Kentucky students in grades 6-12 to explore topics from diet to medicine and bring their findings to LRSEF 2017! The deadline is February 15, 2017.