Regis College Senior Honors Program
Thesis - Open Access
Number of Pages
Of the most important things I've learned at Regis, science came second. Science, in its beautiful complexity, was straightforward. For a nine-year-old just learning English, science was a language that I understood just as well as the other English-speakers. I did not come from a background that prepped me for reading, writing, or American history, but none of that mattered when I was conducting fourth-grade science experiments. I welcomed the sense of community I felt when I was immersed in science, and for the next ten years of my life, I made science my home. Nevertheless, like science, we all must evolve. In my elementary understanding of it, I saw science as a dissection of the world, a systematic way to break down, analyze, and define my surroundings. If science was a brick, I wanted to take my microscope and probe every detail of it. I was ready to commit the rest of my life to that one brick—to study it, to test it, to carve my initials onto every surface of it. In my four years here at Regis, I spent a lot of time studying bricks, both metaphorical and physical. When I was building houses in Pinellas County on a Habitat for Humanity trip last spring, I spent an entire week adding bricks to the exterior walls of half-finished houses. The bricks came in different shades of beige, cream, and brown, and it was up to our job to cement the slabs together to create a sturdy, reinforced wall. Alone, the bricks were not that useful, but when cemented together, they represented the boundaries of a small office, an outline of a private bedroom, or a framework of a future 2 dining area. Eventually, I learned that science was not much different from those concrete bricks in Pinellas County. Science, I came to accept, was a building block that helped support a larger, more important design. As my understanding of science matured, I recognized its applications in economics, healthcare, politics, and public regulations. In turn, these factors feedback to affect the current scientific research process we know today. Science cannot and should not be isolated to a single brick, because its significance protrudes into boundaries well outside of the scientific community. It is no longer satisfactory to simply study science without regard to the context in which the science is applied, which is why, for this thesis, I will also be exploring the history and impacts of federal regulations on scientific research. Science, while already a compelling field on its own, is exponentially more influential and intriguing when studied in context of a larger picture. This project, at its core, is an exploration of science and detail. For many reasons, the questions I’m exploring in this research needs to be asked. How does this Parkinson’s disease-fighting drug work? What does the drug do? How does it fight Parkinson’s disease? But even more importantly, we have to ask what this science means in the larger scope. How soon can the drug be used? What are the long-term side effects? And in what ways can it help people? Mirroring the way my education developed in my four years at Regis, this thesis will first explore the science behind the phenylbutyrate mechanism. Then, it will take a step back and put the science into the context of historical and current drug research policies, FDA regulations on drug development, and previous Parkinson’s disease 3 research in hopes of identifying potential directions of the phenylbutyrate drug. Like the Pinellas County brick, science belongs to a greater infrastructure. The brick is not meant to be broken down and studied on its own; instead, it should serve as a building block. I have learned engage with science, to chisel it and recognize the ways it influences and builds the world. After years of narrowing my research in the laboratory, I’m left to ask myself in what ways I can expand—and that, is beyond textbook.
Date of Award
© Linh Nguyen
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Nguyen, Linh, "Stopping Parkinson’s Disease with Phenylbutyrate: The Science, the History, and the Miles Left to FDA Approval" (2017). Regis University Student Publications (comprehensive collection). 814.