The most universal health problem is age related cognitive decline. There is no adequate research or procedure that targets specific genes associated with this problem. These genes are Cox genes, which are a series of regulatory genes found in mammalian mitochondrial DNA. As organisms age these genes become less functional, a process that leads to a decline in mental function.

This innovative research seeks to fix the non-functional genes by replacing them with young mutation free Cox genes. The solution will be done through the creation and absorption of a synthetic plasmid. Once inserted, the functional Cox genes will create better regulation of mitochondrial oxidation, ultimately slowing the process of cognitive decline.

This idea was pursued in the form of basic medical science research using yeast as the test organism. The experiments focused on using antioxidants to measure any alterations in the production of free radicals in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. This work was presented at Greenfield Central High School, IUPUI Research Day, The Innovation Showcase, and at YiQ-2015.

YiQ Scholars in this project were awarded a $500 College Scholarship by Health & Science Innovations. Keltsey Watkins was able to secure other scholarships to fund her first year of college and is pursuing a Nursing degree. All three YiQ Scholars were accepted into college. John Kennedy continues to pursue his B.S. in Biology, and Priyanka Shah found a job as a Project Engineer at ECRI Institute in Philadelphia, PA.


  • Type: Medical Science
  • Date: July 2014 – July 2015
  • YiQ Scholars: Keltsey Watkins; Michaela Tinkey; Corinne Croslyn
  • Project Managers: John Kennedy; Priyanka Shah, M.S.
  • Supervisor: Dr. Scott McDougall
  • Mentor: Luis Palacio, P.E.
  • Advisors: Dr. Mark Goebl; Dr. Alfredo López-Yúnez