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Julianne Wu

University High School
Irvine, CA

Sex-Related Signaling of the Angiotensin II Pathway in Primary Aortic Smooth Muscle Cells

Julianne Wu studied the effects of hormones on arterial cells and the regulation of the cardioprotective angiotensin II type 2 receptor (called AT2). She found that male cells exposed to estrogen increased AT2 activity, indicating that the female sex hormone may reduce cardiovascular risks. She believes additional research may enhance the understanding of the role of sex differences on the development of cardiovascular disease.

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Julianne Wu, 17, of Irvine, explored the effects of testosterone and estrogen on arterial tissue to examine how hormones affect the cardiovascular systems of males versus females for her Regeneron Science Talent Search cellular and molecular biology project. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and affects males more than pre-menopausal females, but less than post-menopausal females.

Julianne studied cell cultures to observe the activity of various chemical receptors when exposed to estrogen, testosterone, or a control substance. She noticed that when male arterial cells were exposed to estrogen, the presence of a protective receptor called angiotensin II type 2 (called AT2) increased.

Julianne believes her study will contribute to better understanding the AT2 receptor’s role in mediating the two hormones’ effects on cardiovascular health.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Julianne Wu

A classically trained pianist, Julianne is an integral member of her school’s award-winning Science Bowl team at University High School. She also co-founded a nonprofit dedicated to improving education access for underserved communities. Julianne wants to pursue a career as a physician-scientist, medical journalist, and patient advocate. Her parents are Elizabeth Pan and William Wu.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Julianne Wu

Beyond the Project

Julianne has led test-writing committees and developed biology exams for eight national Science Olympiad invitationals, with all proceeds going towards COVID-19 hunger relief and to support the national competition.

FUN FACTS: Julianne loves winter sports, including skiing, figure skating, and hockey. She’d love to try ice diving and dog sledding someday.

Illustration of 2024 STS finalist Julianne Wu by Amy Wike