Born June 18, 1976, Gina's childhood hinted at what was to come. She tended to sneak into her brother's room and turn his stereo up to full blast. She was more interested in race-car toys than dolls. She played 'chemist' by concocting magic brews out of whatever shampoos, facial cleansers or the like left in the bathroom.
This interest in 'brewing' prompted her to pursue a BS in Chemistry at the University of Michigan-Flint. While working on her degree, she also worked at Harmony House, a Detroit-based music store chain. When her father began racing his Spec Racer Renault at the Waterford Hills Race Track, she joined in on the pit crew. She spent days with formulas, chemicals and test-tubes, nights with Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Tori Amos and VAST, and weekends with the roar of engines barreling across the finish line. Oh yeah, and a lot of Detroit rock concerts. It was a cacophony of sound, and it was all in one life.
When Gina decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, she didn't want to lose the eclecticism of life she had come to love. She considered offers from graduate programs around the country, but was looking for both academics and environment. In other words, what could possibly rival Detroit Rock City, home of Detroit Iron and offer a big name doctoral program, too? Nothing. When it ain't broke, don't fix it. And don't leave either. So, she joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. As Voltaire said, "It's the best of all possible worlds"
Gina is working in the lab of Dr. Eva Feldman, MD, Ph.D. on her doctoral thesis. As a member of the Program for Understanding Neurological Disease (PFUND), she's examining cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes afflicts twenty million Americans and the incidence is increasing by 5% per year. Neuropathy is the most common complication of diabetes, occurring in 60% of all diabetic patients. It manifests as decreased sensation, particularly in the legs and feet. Diabetic neuropathy is the leading cause of diabetes-related hospital admissions and nontraumatic amputations in the United States. Human clinical trials implicate chronic hyperglycemia and oxidative stress in the pathogeneses of diabetic neuropathy. Gina's hypothesis is that high levels of glucose, as in the hyperglycemic diabetic patient, cause neurons to commit "Cellular Suicide", known as Apoptosis. Understanding how the cell reacts to high glucose, and how it induces a suicide program will allow us to target sites of therapeutic intervention.
Music ties into, and fuels, Gina's work. Being a scientist is kind of like being a rock star, at least the way Gina works. That piercingly loud sound of Tool emanating from the lab at 2AM? Thats her.
Also, she's experimenting with music in a different way: by making it. Having had a long-time passion for singing, she joined the rock band "Foodfight Satori", who are now in the process of writing new material.
Gina's musical influences run the gamut: Lamb, Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin, Hooverphonic, VAST, The Cure, PJ Harvey, NIN, Radiohead, Tori Amos, Tool, System of a Down, Mandalay, Peter Murphy, Laptop, etc. In particular she's extremely fond of Big Sonic Heaven, a wonderful radio show hosted by Darren Revell on Sunday Nights from 10PM-2AM. The set list generally includes Moby, Sisters of Mercy, Bjork, Emiliana Torrini, This Mortal Coil and other music of a similar vibe. It is the hidden gem of Detroit music.
In addition to full time lab duty, Gina currently works on the Grid at the Waterford Hills Race Track. Yes, she's a "Grid Girl." The work involves making sure the drivers are appropriately belted in, that they are in the right grid order, and that they're ready to go onto the track and race. It comes with the perk of getting to hear the roar of those engines as they start, and that unmistakable, ever exciting sound of cars as the green flag is waved.
The book "The Lost Mind" by Christopher Pike is dedicated to Gina.