CAM Notable Alumni Speaker, 2020-21: Erika Tatiana Camacho (NSF) - A mathematical analysis of aerobic glycolysis triggered by glucose uptake in cones




Patients affected by retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited retinal disease, experience a decline in vision due to photoreceptor degeneration leading to irreversible blindness. Rod-derived cone viability factor (RdCVF) is the most promising mutation-independent treatment today. To identify pathologic processes leading to secondary cone photoreceptor dysfunction triggering central vision loss of these patients, we model the stimulation by RdCVF of glucose uptake in cones and glucose metabolism by aerobic glycolysis. We develop a nonlinear system of enzymatic functions and differential equations to mathematically model molecular and cellular interactions in a cone. We use uncertainty and sensitivity analysis to identify processes that have the largest effect on the system and their timeframes. We consider the case of a healthy cone, a cone with low levels of glucose, and a cone with low and no RdCVF. The three key processes identified are metabolism of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate, production of glycerol-3-phosphate and competition that rods exert on cone resources. The first two processes are proportional to the partition of the carbon flux between glycolysis and the pentose phosphate pathway or the Kennedy pathway, respectively. The last process is the rods’ competition for glucose, which may explain why rods also provide the RdCVF signal to compensate.

Dr. Erika Tatiana Camacho is NSF Program Director for the ADVANCE and HSI programs as well as a co-Lead for the latter. She is a Full Professor in Applied Mathematics at Arizona State University. She published the first set of mechanistic models addressing photoreceptor degeneration, providing a new framework to mitigate blindness. Her leadership, scholarship, and mentoring have won her numerous national and regional recognitions including the 2019 AAAS Mentor Award, the 2014 PAESMEM award from the White House, the 2020 AWM Louise Hay Award for Mathematics Education, the 2018 AAHHE Outstanding Latino/a Faculty in Higher Education Research/Teaching (Research Institutions) Award, the 2017 Great Minds in STEM Education Award, the 2012 SACNAS Distinguished Mentoring Award, and the 2011 Hispanic Women’s Corporation National Latina Leadership Award among many other national awards and honors. She was a 2013-2014 MLK Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She grew up in East Los Angeles and was taught by Jaime Escalante at Garfield High School. She received her B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from Wellesley College and earned her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Cornell University. Dr. Camacho spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She then held a tenure-track faculty position at Loyola Marymount University before joining the faculty at ASU in 2007. She co-directed multiple summer programs dedicated to the recruitment of undergraduate women, underrepresented minorities, and those that might not otherwise have the opportunity. Dr. Camacho’s passion is to continue the work and legacy of her mentors: to create opportunities for those individuals from marginalized communities and make education and advancement attainable to them.

Zoom Link Access:
This talk will be given via Zoom, and the link is emailed to the CAM Seminar listserv the week of the talk. If you are not on the listserv, please contact Erika Fowler-Decatur to request the link.