News of the Week

Coscarella is finalist for Graduate Student Excellence in Visual Arts Award

Mar 14, 2023

Isabella Coscarella, a graduate research assistant in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, is a finalist for the 2023 Graduate Student Excellence in Visual Arts Award, sponsored by the Florida State University Graduate School.

Coscarella’s “Flow of Life” entry is an immunofluorescence microscopy of human-induced pluripotent stem-cell cardiomyocytes, which are treated with fluorescent markers to show specific proteins of interest to researchers studying cardiomyopathies.

She is fourth-year doctoral candidate in the laboratory of Associate Professor Jose Pinto. Coscarella’s work will be on display in the Honors, Scholars, and Fellows (HSF) House for several weeks. Her framed image will be accompanied by this artist statement, which explains its significance:

This is an image of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) cardiomyocytes. These cells were reprogrammed into stem cells using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, and mutations associated with cardiomyopathy were introduced. Cardiomyopathies are diseases of the heart muscle in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood effectively. Since heart diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States of America, it is crucial to research the major causes of the pathology. Cardiomyopathies can be genetically inherited or acquired throughout life. Acquired cardiomyopathy can be a result of viral infections, autoimmune diseases, infiltrative disorders or inflammatory factors, and there is no cure as of today. Cardiomyopathies can trigger a variety of different alterations in morphology and function of proteins related to the contractility of the heart and therefore the heart’s performance. Then, it is important to investigate the functionality of proteins and its presence (or expression) in certain conditions. In the image, marked proteins that exert mechanical forces (such as myosin – green – and troponin – purple) show their expression, checking the presence of contractile apparatus of these cardiac cells. Over the years, scientists try to find ways to target these proteins and develop specific medications that would act directly on them, helping the heart to pump properly. If these specific targeted proteins are treated and start working correctly again, the muscle recovers its pumping mechanics. With the heart working properly, a patient originally diagnosed with cardiomyopathy can now live normally and have a higher quality of life.

The top three entries for the graduate student category will be selected by a final jury and the winners will be announced at the HSF Excellence in Visual Arts Exhibition on April 15.

Each winner selected will be awarded $500. In addition, a $250 People’s Choice Award will be determined by an audience vote at the event.


coscarella flow of life