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Natasha Kulviwat

Jericho High School
Jericho, NY

The Neurobiology of Suicide: Blood-Brain Barrier Breakdown as a Novel Suicide-Risk Biomarker

Natasha Kulviwat researched biomarkers, including claudin-5, to help identify people at risk of suicide. In an experimental study, she analyzed de-identified brain tissue, tested related genes that regulate claudin-5, and found that claudin-5 also plays an instrumental role in the stabilization of the blood-brain-barrier.

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Natasha Kulviwat, 17, of Jericho, submitted a Regeneron Science Talent Search neuroscience project describing her search for a biomarker to identify people at risk for suicide. In an experimental study, Natasha analyzed de-identified brain tissue, measured levels of claudin-5, albumin, and immunoglobulin G, and found increased amounts of neuroinflammation and claudin-5 in suicide decedents.

Analysis of multiple genetic mediators affecting the expression of claudin-5 also revealed that blood-brain-barrier degradation is linked to claudin-5 degradation. Her research suggests that high levels of albumin and the protein claudin-5 may serve as early markers of suicide risk.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Natasha Kulviwat

In May 2023, Natasha received the Gordon E. Moore Award at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair for her earlier research on this subject. Natasha heads the student government at Jericho High School and in her freshman year, started a medical club to engage students in medical research publications. She also founded a nonprofit group promoting free math education to underserved students and has authored two papers in peer-reviewed academic journals. Her parents are Napatsawan Engchanil and Songpol Kulviwat.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist

Beyond the Project

One summer, Natasha slept with 125 bananas every night to advance her search to develop a biodegradable film to prolong the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. She succeeded in her quest!

FUN FACTS: Natasha plays piano, violin, viola, ukulele, guitar, Thai khim, and Thai saw, and serenades her unofficial pet raccoon. She says, “the high-pitch plucking in the middle of the night isn’t a cat…it’s me.”

Illustration of 2024 STS finalist Natasha Kulviwat by Amy Wike