Alexandra Orr


Alexandra Orr





Alexandra Orr is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Central Florida. She was born and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida and she is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences. Alexandra is a member of the Burnett Honors College and is a RAMP Scholar currently performing research under Dr. Steven Ebert. Their research involves the study of stress induced cardiomyopathy, specifically Takotsubo Syndrome. Alexandra is also a Biomedical Sciences Peer Counselor and a Crisis Text Hotline Volunteer. She hopes to obtain a Master's Degree in Genetic Counseling.

Faculty Mentor

Steven Ebert Ph.D., Associate Professor

Undergraduate Major


Future Plans

Master's Degree in Genetic Counseling


Broken Heart Syndrome: Testing a new mechanistic hypothesis to explain susceptibility in menopausal females - Dr. Steven Ebert - University of Central Florida - Abstract: Broken heart syndrome (also known as Takotsubo syndrome or stress-induced cardiomyopathies) occurs predominantly in post-menopausal women, but the underlying causes for this phenomenon are unknown. In an effort to shed some light on the problem, previous research has been done to determine how age, sex, and menopausal status affect left ventricular function in mice hearts. Epinephrine stimulation and immobilization stress were applied to pre- and post- menopausal female mice hearts, as well as male and female mice of similar ages. Ultrasound techniques were used to determine how each experimental group was affected. Younger males responded more fervently to the epinephrine, while older males and post-menopausal females had similar responses to both the epinephrine and immobilization stress. Additionally, adrenergic cells were seen to “re-appear” in post-menopausal females. To determine if the observed re-appearance of adrenergic cells in post-menopausal hearts translates into increased adrenaline content in the heart, we will collect cardiac tissue from pre-and post-menopausal hearts for measurement of adrenaline concentrations using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) techniques. We will also be using quantitative RT-PCR to measure amounts of Phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) mRNA from the heart samples, as well as western blotting to measure protein concentrations. PNMT is an enzyme that works in the adrenal medulla to convert norepinephrine to adrenaline (epinephrine). I am expecting to see high levels of PNMT expression because that would translate to high levels of adrenaline in the heart, which would support our hypothesis.


Medicine and Health Sciences

Alexandra Orr